STARFISH, by Lisa Fipps, Nancy Paulsen Books, March 9, 2021, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 10 and up)
Starfish, by Lisa Fipps, is a story of self-acceptance and self-advocacy.
Ever since Ellie wore a whale swimsuit and made a big splash at her fifth birthday party, she’s been bullied about her weight. To cope, she tries to live by the Fat Girl Rules — like “no making waves,” “avoid eating in public,” and “don’t move so fast that your body jiggles.”
And she’s found her safe space — her swimming pool — where she feels weightless in a fat-obsessed world. In the water, she can stretch herself out like a starfish and take up all the room she wants. It’s also where she can get away from her pushy mom, who thinks criticizing Ellie’s weight will motivate her to diet.
Fortunately, Ellie has allies in her dad, her therapist, and her new neighbor, Catalina, who loves Ellie for who she is. With this support buoying her, Ellie might finally be able to cast aside the Fat Girl Rules and starfish in real life — by unapologetically being her own fabulous self. —Synopsis provided by Nancy Paulsen Books
Starfish is an emotional read from beginning to end. Lisa Fipps’ prose is elegant, honest, and, at times, raw. It’s clear from the beginning that she hasn’t just written a story. Ellie’s experiences stem Fipps’ own life. In her author’s note she says, “… a variation of every single mean thing people said or did to Ellie happened to me when I was a child. Fat Girl Rules exist.”
There’s an authenticity there that you just can’t make up.
Starfish examines bullying on multiple levels — classmates, siblings and parents. These are important distinctions. Often, parents will write off family bullying as harmless teasing, not the same as at school. As a parent, the book is a stark reminder that my words, even just one comment, could and can have a lasting impact.
Through the support of her father and close friends as well as the help of a therapist, Ellie learns to accept herself and not to try and shrink away. Through it all, Ellie is a compelling and sincere character that gives a voice to overweight children.
Starfish is one of those books you pick up and don’t want to put down. Fipps’ writing packs an emotional punch that will make readers from all points of view question themselves and their actions. It’s one of the best books I’ve read this year.
Join me during the STARFISH Virtual Launch Party, tweet about something that happens/is said during it, and tag me. Then you’ll be entered in the drawing for one of 10 books by @LynMullalyHunt @SonyaSones @padmatv @karianneholt @LynneKelly Silvia Lopez, Asa Holland, and me. pic.twitter.com/pRGlN9d1qT
— Author Lisa Fipps (@AuthorLisaFipps) March 7, 2021