fishbowl book coverReviewed by Poppy Johnson

Fishbowl by Bradley Somer…where do I start? This book sure packs a lot of action! It should be on the big screen and here are the reasons why. First, the leading character is a fish named Ian who is meant to die by the end of the book. That’s right, the entire novel is one day in the life of all of the characters, with Ian taking a plunge by the book’s end. Don’t worry, Ian tells the reader this snippet on page one so knowing about his impending demise is not much of spoiler.

Second, there are no minor characters in this book–everyone the reader encounters is important to the action and to each of the other characters. There is the timid home-schooled boy Herman, who chooses ultimate bravery; Connor, who is a cheating no-good-nik who discovers true love too late; Katie, who finds herself; Faye, a tempest who learns to move on gracefully; Jimenez, who learns how to fix anything; Petunia Delilah, who is pregnant and wondering when her boyfriend Danny will finally claim responsibility for their new family, and a manly construction worker Garth who discovers life itself at the apartment.

If Fishbowl was made into a movie, you would go, and you would be wishing for more. The characters touch each other, then pull back, challenge each other, then push back–all in a story centered on poor Ian the goldfish, who will die today. But describing the story further will ruin the book and I do suggest you read this book, so I will carefully sidestep the parts that need preserving. Let me, instead, focus on why this book is so amazing. The attention to detail is astonishing–I felt like I was sitting next to the character at every stage of his or her development.  Somer definitely has a knack for describing our fragile human condition. Using flashbacks, Somer gives us different perspectives on each important milestone the characters take. And all those milestones happen over only one day! At first, the characters only know each other in passing but later get an intimate glance over each other’s shoulders – it is uncanny to say the least. Through a series of madcap events, the entire day plays itself out and yes, Ian must die. People in the story are strangely drawn to each other and the book has a good ending to boot.

The book Fishbowl will easily be a blockbuster movie–if it is ever made. But for now, read it and pass it along to someone you love.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

After a decade of working in several NYC law departments and teaching, Poppy decided she enjoyed writing full-time. She currently works as a freelance writing consultant, and lives with her husband and sons on the East Coast.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by St. Martin’s Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.