Goldfish – Nat Luurtsema – Feiwel & Friends – Published 7 June 2016
Girl Out of Water – Nat Luurtsema – Walker Books – Published 2 June 2016
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.
There are some books that touch you deeply, other books intrigue and still others make you question life and starting looking at things from another angle. And then there are books, like Goldfish (AKA Girl Out of Water), that just make you happy. I couldn’t stop smiling and laughing while reading this book. There wasn’t a moment I didn’t love, it was such a pleasure to read. I’ve got to give Goldfish five stars for re-readability and genuine hilarity.
Lou just came last in the biggest swimming race of her life. Now, gone are the early morning, lunchtime and after school training sessions. Gone is the elitist swim camp. Gone are her Olympic dreams. Gone too is her best friend – off to the aforementioned swim camp. Lou has a lot of spare time on her hands now and a new-found lack of popularity. So when a group of popular and gorgeous boys ask her to help train them, she surprises herself by agreeing.
Now, note in my synopsis I don’t mention synchronised swimming like the book’s official summary does? That’s because the guys are a little less synchronised swim team and more group of boys who want to be on Britain’s Hidden Talent TV show and didn’t get through as dancers and so decide to take their dancing talent underwater. As I said, hilarity.
I think that was the one thing that niggled me about this book. I very much doubt that even the best dancers or swimmers can become good synchronised swimmers in just a couple weeks. But that really is one minor detail in what is a fantastic book.
Lou narrates this book. She had my eternal love with the line “My name’s Lou and I am a fifteen-year-old ex-swimmer. I have an older sister, Laverne. Yup, Lou and Lav. We have a brother called Toilet.” In the author bio at the end I read that Nat Luurtsema is a comedian. Now it all makes sense, because Lou, the writing style, the whole book is genuinely funny.
This book has a fantastic balance. Yes, most of it is laughter-inducing, but it also touches on some deeper issues, including the pressure of high-performance sports, size and weight and what is considered socially preferred, and the pressure of being a teenager. There is also just the slightest touch of romance, which adds the final touch of brilliance to this book. I loved Lou’s family, slightly crazy but very supportive and grounded. Add in friendship and sport and this book ticked all the right boxes.
I highly recommend this book and I can’t wait to read it again. I really hope Nat Luurtsema continues writing fiction because she is rather fabulous at it.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Swimming, Humour, Sport, Friendship, Talent shows, High school, Family.
Reading age guide: Ages 12 and up.
Advisory: Vague, mild sexual references.
Published: 7 June 2016 by Feiwel & Friends.
Format: Hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook. 240 pages.