What If a Fish by Anika Fajardo. Simon & Schuster, 2020. 9781534449831
Format: ARC (available 8/20)
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4.5
Genre: Realistic fiction
What did you like about the book? Eddie is a sixth grader in Minnesota, living with his Mom. His dad died when he was little. Since his dad was Colombian, Eddie is sent to Cartagena during the summer to spend time with his half-brother Big Eddie, and Abuela, who is dying. Eddie had counted on Big Eddie coming up to visit him in Minnesota, hoping that his big brother would help him with memories of their shared father, and looking forward to Big Eddie defending him against neighborhood racist bullies. In Colombia, Eddie finds that Big Eddie is grieving the imminent loss of Abuela, and the bonding over their father doesn’t go exactly how he had hoped. He also counted on Big Eddie helping him learn to fish, so he could have a chance of winning a local fishing contest that his father won. This book explores grief and cultural identity through the character of a thoughtful, sensitive boy who feels out of place in the U.S. and in Colombia. In a way, even though he doesn’t get a lot of answers about his father, he ends up feeling comfortable with himself moving forward with the support of his mother, brother and friend. The story is written in the first person, and Eddie’s voice is completely believable and relatable.
Anything you didn’t like about it? No
To whom would you recommend this book? For middle grade readers interested in realistic depictions of grief and dual-culture identity.
Who should buy this book? Elementary school and public libraries
Where would you shelve it ? Fiction
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Near the top.
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA
Date of review: May 17, 2020