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Publisher's Summary

Ellie is tired of being fat-shamed and does something about it in this poignant debut novel-in-verse.

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.

©2021 Lisa Fipps (P)2021 Listening Library

Critic Reviews

“In her debut novel, Starfish, Lisa Fipps confronts diet culture and fat phobia head-on.... This can make for difficult reading, but it never becomes unbearably bleak thanks to Ellie’s humor (there are some laugh-out-loud moments), as well as the power of her voice, which manages to convey many different feelings, often at once: sass and rage, innocence and cynicism, and, most of all, heartbreak. The book reads as if Ellie herself is writing these poems, which are accessible and engaging.” (The New York Times Book Review)

“Fipps bursts onto the middle-grade scene with her debut, a verse novel that shines because of Ellie’s keen and emotionally striking observations. As she draws readers in with her smart and succinct voice, Ellie navigates the difficult map of knowing she deserves better treatment while struggling with the conflict that's necessary to achieve it. Fipps hands her young narrator several difficult life lessons, including how to self-advocate, how not to internalization of the words of others, and what it means to defend yourself. Ellie's story will delight readers who long to see an impassioned young woman seize an unapologetic victory.” (Booklist, starred review) 

“Fipps’ verse is skillful and rooted in emotional reality. The text places readers in Ellie’s shoes, showing how she is attacked in many spaces - including by strangers on public transit - while clearly asserting that it’s other people who need to change.... Make room in your heart for this cathartic novel.” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)  

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  • JENNE ESTES
  • 02-07-21

Perfection!

Absolutely exactly the feelings and representation of what it is to be a fat kid. Thank you, Lisa, for so eloquently and yet understandably giving a realistic voice to us.

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  • kaleidoscope school
  • 12-04-21

What a FABULOUS book!

The story is fabulous, the narration is fabulous—I love this book!! Listen to it!

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  • Lena
  • 12-11-21

Brilliant book

Not sure there is a person alive that can’t benefit in some way from listening to this book. Either to grow in empathy or to hear the truth over the lies you’ve believed all your life about others or yourself.
It’s also perfect for kids, especially ones who can relate to the main character’s experiences. I plan to have this ready for our next family road trip.
The story offers roads to grace, kindness, forgiveness, courage, standing up for yourself and finding ways to be an emotionally healthier individual and family.
The narrator adds to the experience, so I’m happy I listened instead of reading this book myself.

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  • retha
  • 03-10-21

Excellent story

Good book to use in therapy
Excellent read for any child who battles with their weight or bullying.

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  • Angela G.
  • 06-08-21

Great read for middle school girls

I cannot wait to add this to my classroom library. the main character is strong and the book has a great message.

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  • Tabitha Bird
  • 14-07-21

Beautiful

I know this book was meant for middle grade kids but honestly I found it incredibly healing to read as an adult. You can have issues with food and weight no matter how much you weigh. I highly recommend this book. So beautifully written