Monday, June 13, 2016

Goldfish by Nat Luurtsema

by Nat Luurtsema 
Read: May 11 - 13, 2016
Published: June 7, 2016 by Feiwel & Friends
Source: Galley from publisher (Thank You, Macmillan!)
Category: YA, contemporary, swimming, talent competitions 

Book Description: Lou 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.

When the Olympic swimming time-trials don't go as planed for Louise Brown - she fails spectacularly by coming in dead last - Lou's world is completely upended. Her best (and let's face it, only,) friend Hannah won her trial and is at the Olympic training camp, while Lou is back in school without any of the things that have defined her life until now. Lou is trying to stay positive, but she is now a swimming outcast, and navigating her family or the high school social scene has never come easy to her. Things get better, or at least more interesting for Lou when she somehow becomes the coach of a synchronized swimming team of three popular boys at school. With no prior knowledge of the sport, and even less of boy interactions, Lou is more than a little out of her depth, but she's determined to do her best anyway. She just hopes not too many people are watching if she fails. 

This book was hilarious. I had the best time reading Goldfish, and one of the reasons for that was Lou's voice. It was a lot of fun to be inside of her head. Lou is self deprecating and the queen of embarrassing moments, but in an honest and amusing way. I was cheering her on from the beginning. I enjoyed watching her come out of her shell and put her full self into her new role as synchronized swimming coach, despite her lack of experience and failures along the way. I was cheering Lou on through all of this, and loved seeing how much she'd grown and changed by the end of the story. 

This book was far fetched and over the top. But still, I loved it. I had a lot of questions about how Lou's failed Olympic time trials played out. Why did she only try out in the individual medley if she was such a strong breast stroke swimmer? How the heck did she come in last and have no clue she'd swam poorly: she should have had a better idea of how she'd do if she'd been swimming against the other racers at meets? Why did her coach and the rest of the team treat her like a social pariah when she was clearly still a good swimmer: I mean none of the other team members besides Hannah even tried out for the Olympics? There's also all sorts of crazy things that happen later - the aquarium part is fun but insane - as are both of the tryouts. But you know what, I think the ridiculousness of this book is one of the elements that made it more awesome, especially with Lou navigating the whole experience for us.

Lou and Gabe are not your typical YA romantic pairing, and I love it all the more because of that. Gabe is one of the guys on Lou's synchronized swimming team, and he and Lou have a sweet, slow romance in this story. While Lou describes herself as a giant, 5'10" and growing, Gabe is much shorter than her. I'm all about the shorter guys, though we don't see a lot of that in books. Also, while Lou is in great physical condition from being a top swimming athlete, Gabe suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome and is out of school a lot because of that. Poor guy. I'm a sucker for romantic pairings that seem odd at first but are really perfect, and these two were adorable. The romance is not the central element, but it definitely made me love this story more. I also enjoyed Lou's interactions with the other boys on the team too. But there's no triangle here. 

I didn't expect Lou and Hannah's friendship to remain intact. For some reason I thought that Lou and Hannah's relationship would fizzle because Hannah made the Olympic trials, and that Hannah and Lou would grow apart. And while they are separated for most of the book and definitely have their ups and downs,  I love the way they continue to rely on each other and that Hannah always considers Lou her best friend no matter where she is, and the way that Lou understands Hannah better than anyone. This was an unexpected part of the book, and I liked it a lot. Lou also doesn't feel like she fits in with her family, but they, like Hannah, are always there when she needs them. 

Tl;tr: This book was hilarious. Far fetched and over the top in places but I was laughing out loud and couldn't stop reading so that's a definite win for me. I loved Lou's voice and the whole story was entertaining. Plus those odd romantic pairings always get me and Lou + Gabe were adorable. 

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone

Don't miss my Blog Tour post for Goldfish: I play Would You Rather? 
with Lou and the boys + you can enter to WIN the book! 

Go HERE for the post


  1. I love that you thought this was a comical read! I feel like we don't get enough of those types of books. I look forward to reading this!

  2. At first I was unsure what this book was about (I read your blog tour post first). Then I read your review and the book description and it sounds like something I'd love. I could really use a funny book right now, so I look forward to reading it. Great review!

  3. Huh, I haven't heard of this one but the romance and friendship and general set-up have me definitely intrigued! I'm not sure how well I'll do with the suspension of belief required--I tend to feel more slighted by those than most--but I'm very curious about this one! Thanks for putting it on my radar, Lauren! :)

  4. Ohhh, lovely review Lauren :D So glad you liked this one. YAY for cute romance :D And yay for it being a fun book. Gah. You have made me curious about it :D Not read for more of this genre just yet.. but one day soon, maybe. <3 Thank you for sharing your awesome thoughts about it sweetie :)


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