My Life in the Fish Tank

Author: Barbara Dee
Publisher: Aladdin
Genre: Middle grade
ISBN: 978-1534432338
Pages: 320
Price: $17.99

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Zinny Manning couldn’t anticipate how her life would change when her brother, Gabriel, is involved in an automobile accident. Her family had always been normal, or at least as normal as it could be. But now Gabriel has been diagnosed with a mental illness, and she doesn’t know how to deal with it.

Her Mom has told her not to tell anyone, which means her best friends can’t know about it. And what about the Lunch Club that she’s recently been invited to? Keeping the secret feels wrong, but it’s the only thing she knows how to do. Thank goodness her favorite teacher allows her to work on the class project while she’s supposed to be at lunch, giving her a safe refuge. But is that really all she needs?

My Life in the Fish Tank is an honest but hopeful look at the family dynamics around a mental health diagnosis. Each of Zinny’s family cope in the only ways they can handle, and the family structure appears to be breaking down around them. But ultimately, Zinny and her family come to accept Gabriel’s condition and work with him to get better. Zinny is a likeable and real character, and I highly recommend this heart-warming middle-grade story.

Reviewer: Alice Berger