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Publisher's Summary

Seventh-grader Zoey has her hands full as she takes care of her much younger siblings after school every day while her mom works her shift at the pizza parlor. Not that her mom seems to appreciate it. At least there's Lenny, her mom's boyfriend - they all get to live in his nice, clean trailer. 

At school, Zoey tries to stay under the radar. Her only friend, Fuchsia, has her own issues, and since they're in an entirely different world than the rich kids, it's best if no one notices them.

Zoey thinks how much easier everything would be if she were an octopus: eight arms to do eight things at once. Incredible camouflage ability and steady, unblinking vision. Powerful, protective defenses.

Unfortunately, she's not totally invisible, and one of her teachers forces her to join the debate club. Even though Zoey resists participating, debate ultimately leads her to see things in a new way: her mom's relationship with Lenny, Fuchsia's situation, and her own place in this town of people who think they're better than her. Can Zoey find the courage to speak up, even if it means risking the most stable home she's ever had?

©2018 Ann Braden (P)2019 Tantor

What listeners say about The Benefits of Being an Octopus

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Leah Picanco
  • 06-01-20

Touching and Eye-opening

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, its characters, and the plot. I especially appreciated how it has the potential to help a person see and better understand a situation that may be different from theirs. It was beautifully written, but I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had read it to myself. I also wonder if the heaviness of these topics is a but much for middle schoolers, and I don't love how it supports a political agenda in some parts. However, it does do pretty well at showing that there is more than one way to look at an issue. I think the solution at the end was a bit simplistic, but it wasn't too "happily ever after." Overall, it was a great read, one that will stick with me, and one I will recommend to my students!

3 people found this helpful

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  • Prime user
  • 03-08-20

An Amazing Book

This is a great book. I want to set a disclaimer that I’m in middle school and that this is a more mature book that anyone younger should probably not read because there is violence and mature topics that will probably trigger younger kids because there is talk and actions of gun violence and abuse . But besides that it is an amazing book to read and it has a very valid point of view!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Ipod22
  • 04-05-19

Great Story

This was a book my son wanted to read. He asked me to read it too. I listened to it and am glad I did.

2 people found this helpful

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  • MCostello
  • 19-07-20

Great Middle-School book

My 7th-grader was assigned this book in her English class, so I got it here in order to make sure the comprehension was on track. I’m so glad she’s reading it! The themes and characters are not at all rosy & sweet. There are some overarching positives - families and healthy friendships and a girl “finding her voice”. However, The exposure to domestic abuse (including identifying financial and emotional abuse) is honest and age-appropriate. The very real, ordinary issues of financial insecurity, homelessness, gun violence, bullying are right there alongside middle school cliques and teen relationship drama. Its easy to invest in the characters and relate to them. The book was terrific - 5 stars! (Side note - 4 stars on the performance b/c the voices of the two five-year-olds was overdone and silly. It kind of detracted from the rest of the story.)

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Avalon
  • 26-02-20

really good book

I loved this book because it kinda gives you facts and has a story to go with it. And I like the story of a girl who became confident and the naratur is really good too. ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜

1 person found this helpful

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  • Meredith Linder
  • 08-01-20

Great book with challenging subjects

Great book covering very difficult subjects. Definitely recommend for middle school students, not really appropriate for lower school students.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Cass
  • 06-11-19

Great read

Can’t believe how this makes me connect to some of the students at our school

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-09-19

Great Book

This was a great book for middle readers. I gave it five stars because I believe this book will help other kids view other people in a different light.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Yulil Alonso-Garza
  • 09-03-19

Great read

The topics in this book are so real. I could see myself and perhaps even some of my students in the characters.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Cheryl
  • 28-02-21

A Story of Survival

In a world where things are never perfect and far from easy, this girl shows her bravery and dedication to her family. The way her love for the octopus is used to help her through situations is very clever.