Author Lisa Thompson’s debut novel, The Goldfish Boy, is a contemporary mystery intended for middle grade readers.
First person perspective introduces readers to the protagonist, 12-year-old Matthew Corbin. Matthew lives on a quiet cul-da-sac in the suburbs of London, but as of late, Matthew doesn’t quite live, as much as he spends his life watching his neighbors live. Confined to his house because of sever OCD, Matthew occupies himself with cleaning and keeping tabs on his neighbors through his upstairs windows.
Mocked and ridiculed, even by adults, it isn’t until a neighborhood boy goes missing that police and neighbors view him as a prime witness that could possibly help solve the case.
The author does a magnificent job with describing the neighborhood in which Matthew lives. Matthew’s reminiscing about past encounters with his neighbors creates a backstory that gives readers a more conclusive idea on who the neighbors are, and the possibility that they could be the kidnapper.
Matthew comes across as a sincere and sensitive boy, and this is made evident in the unlikely friendships he begins to develop with kids he’d once written off.
This book includes a two-part mystery–that of the missing child, and the question of where Matthew’s OCD stems from.
Rather than building suspense for the story, the author focuses heavily on the sympathy of Matthew’s situation. His parents are clueless on how to help, and their desperation and frustration to remedy the situation is palpable. The inclusion of a mental health professional, is to be applauded. This shows that it is okay and good to seek help for coping mechanisms that are unhealthy.
A bit of a tear-jerker, this novel intensely portrays the hardships of a child dealing with mental illness. The revelations that are made with the kidnapping and Matthew’s disorder will leave readers with a satisfying ending.
This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Scholastic Press (A Scholastic Imprint)
Profanity/Language: 3 religious exclamations; 2 mild obscenities.
Violence/Gore: Child angrily shoves toddler sibling in a body of water, toddler begins to drown; guardian roughly grabs child; thought of violence; character roughly grabs another character; humorous joke of violence; child blocks another child from moving; humorous threat of violence.
Sex/Nudity: Mention that mono is called the “kissing disease”; married couple kiss and/or hug about 2x; character blows a kiss.
Mature Subject Matter:
Mental illness/disorder/ OCD/anxiety, missing child, loss of (a) loved one(s)/death.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Adult mentions bringing wine to a party; character sees adult smoking.