Goldfish by Nat Luurtsema


A quirky and uplifting book about finding your way when everything you thought you wanted goes kaput, and something possibly even better comes along, Goldfish by Nat Luurtsema will have you laughing and cringing and cheering along for Louise and her unlikely team of synchronized swimmers.

goldfishLouise Brown is one of the fastest swimmers in the county. She’s not boasting, she really is. So things are looking pretty rosy the day of the Olympic time-trials. With her best mate Hannah by her side, Lou lines up by the edge of the pool, snaps her goggles on and bends into her dive…

Everything rests on this race. It’s Lou’s thing.

… or it was. She comes dead last and to top it all off Hannah sails through leaving a totally broken Lou behind.

Starting again is never easy, particularly when you’re the odd-one out in a family of insanely beautiful people and a school full of social groups way too intimidating to join. Where do you go from here? Finding a new thing turns out to be the biggest challenge Lou’s ever faced and opens up a whole new world of underwater somersaults, crazy talent shows, bitchy girls and a great big load of awkward boy chat.

Lou Brown guides us through the utter humiliation of failure with honesty, sass and a keen sense of the ridiculous. This girl will not be beaten.

The mayhem that ensues when Lou agrees to coach three of the most popular boys she knows in synchronized swimming for a TV talent show are the primary source of this book’s funniest moments. Yet Luurtsema naturally weaves humor into her story throughout the narrative; a thoroughly British flavor really giving Goldfish an extra dose of ambiance. (Especially if you’re as addicted to BBC programming as I am. I live on the wrong side of the pond.)

Goldfish is an unexpected and delightful coming-of-age story with a madcap twist. Luurtsema’s writing is witty, fresh and engaging; the story is bold and new, while still delivering relatable characters and scenarios. I cringed in sympathy through Lou’s most horrifically embarrassing moments, and cheered for her in her greatest victories.

And though I’ve never swum competitively, or coached synchronized swimmers, or competed on a reality TV show — Luurtsema still manages to capture the essence of these quintessentially adolescent experiences that anyone can relate to. Overcoming disappointment; finding a new direction when things don’t go the way you wanted or planned on; fitting in, finding friends, and balancing the urge to “fit in” with the desire to truly be yourself. And trying to figure out who “yourself” is along the way. These moments, this essence of teenagedom, is the real soul of Goldfish, and Luurtsema conveys it all elegantly and honestly.

Look for Goldfish in stores now.


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