The Fourteenth Goldfish, Jennifer L. Holm

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Eleven-year-old Ellie does not like the changes after entering middle school. Ellie always wonder whether Brianna still is her best friend after she has discovered her interest in volleyball and now spends most of her time with her teammates. Then they are Ellie's divorced parents, a high school drama teacher and a touring actor, who has a lot of passions into theater. Ellie is not interested in sports nor stage but she has enthusiasm in other areas which are totally opposite from her mom. She starts to discover her own interest when a 13-year-old boy comes to town and lives with her.

As the conversation continues between her and the boy, she is shocked to realise that the boy is her grandfather, the scientist Melvin Sagarsky. Grandpa Melvin has discovered the reversal of ageing process. He wishes to be recognized for his discovery with a Nobel but he needs to retrieve an important jellyfish from his old lab to continue his research. Unfortunately, the lab is no longer accessible for him. In the meantime, Grandpa Melvin is attending Ellie's middle school and facing the usual teenage problems such as detention, asking for a permission use the facilities and acne issues. Will Grandpa Melvin able to retrieve the jellyfish to win the Nobel? What will be Ellie's interest in the end?

This is one of the most interesting science fiction books I ever read. It will attract more children to get interested in science if there are more science fiction books as good as this one. I really enjoy reading it and love the 'Grandpa Melvin' character. He is very knowledgeable. Not only Ellie feels fascinated with his talk about scientific discoveries and the scientists, I like his stories too. It will be useful for children to learn some of the well-known scientists mentioned in this book. Although he seems like an eccentric scientist but I feel he is funny as well. I feel amused with his immortal love of Chinese takeout moo goo gai pan. With a teenage body but a mind of a 77-year-old man, you can imagine how funny the situation will be when he talks to his daughter. I can't stop laughing every time he talks to her. I admire his confidence in his dressing style and ignore what others will think about him.

All these time, I never have any opinions about age reversal process until I read this book. I wish the ageing reversal process never get discovered by humans. I agree with Ellie in the story. With the existence of ageing reversal process, humans will never learn to appreciate their life because it's no longer precious. It's a cycle of life and everyone should experience it. Endings are sad but beginnings are exciting.

Here are my favourite quotes from the book:

"Average people just give up at the obstacles we face every day. Scientists fail again and again and again. Sometimes for our whole lives. But we don’t give up, because we want to solve the puzzle."

 

Endings are sad. Like goldfish dying and Grandma’s slippers and Brianna and me. But beginnings are exciting. Like discovering something I might be good at and making new friends. Raj. "It’s the cycle of life," I say, remembering Starlily’s words. "Things need to move forward, not backward."

 

She has a line about whether anyone understands life when they’re living it. I get what she’s trying to say: life is precious and we don’t realize that at the time. But maybe life’s also precious because it doesn’t last forever. Like an amusement park ride. The roller coaster is exciting the first time. But would it be as fun if you did it again and again and again?

 

I wonder if this is what it’s like to be a scientist. To believe in something so strongly that you’re willing to go against everything, even someone you love.

Rating: ★★★★★
More reviews can be found on Goodreads: The Fourteenth Goldfish.

Chin Yee

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