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Starfish Hardcover – 9 March 2021

4.8 out of 5 stars 186 ratings

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* “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

* “Affirming representation of fatness. . . . Fipps’s use of verse is as effective as it is fitting; Ellie dreams of becoming a storyteller and poet ‘to help people feel what it’s like/ to live in/ someone else’s skin.’ A triumphant and poignantly drawn journey toward self-acceptance and self-advocacy.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

* “A charming novel in verse about a girl struggling with self-worth. . . . Once readers start, it will be difficult for them to put this book down. Ellie’s story is heartbreaking and raw at times, and Fipps paints a realistic picture of bullying in a world that equates thinness with beauty. . . . True joy comes in watching Ellie gain confidence in herself and standing up to the bullies, even when they’re family. . . . A must-have for libraries serving teens and tweens.”—School Library Journal, starred review

“In this free-verse novel, Fipps is laceratingly authentic about the kind of ‘teasing’ and ‘help’ that Ellie is constantly subject to, and the family dynamic, wherein her father dislikes her mother’s treatment but rarely intervenes, is sadly believable. . . The intense focus mirrors a lot of experience, and readers will be glad to see Ellie eventually ‘starfishing—starting to claim my right to take up space.’”—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“Readers will rejoice as Ellie gains the strength to confront bullies with intelligence and honesty, and refuses to allow other people’s cruelty to shape her life.”—Padma Venkatraman, award-winning author of The Bridge Home

“This is a big beautiful book about a big beautiful girl. Meet Ellie, who looks in the mirror and sees someone lovable. Now, if only the rest of the world (and especially her own mother and brother) could see what Ellie sees. This is a story about the colossal cruelty that’s hurled at her because of her weight, and how, with colossal strength, Ellie manages to triumph. An honest, heartbreaking, hilarious novel-in-verse from a debut author with a delicious voice.”—Sonya Sones, author of What My Mother Doesn’t Know

“Lisa Fipps’s spot-on verse gives Ellie a wrenchingly real voice that sings with humor, pain, and hope. Prepare yourself: Once you read this book, your heart will never be the same.” —K. A. Holt, author of House Arrest

About the Author

Lisa Fipps is a library marketing manager. Starfish is her debut novel. She lives in Kokomo, Indiana.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Nancy Paulsen Books (9 March 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 256 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1984814508
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1984814500
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 10 - 13 years
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 363 g
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 14.61 x 2.31 x 21.69 cm
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.8 out of 5 stars 186 ratings

About the author

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Lisa Fipps is an award-winning former journalist and an author of middle-grade books. STARFISH is her debut novel.

Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5
186 global ratings

Top review from India

Reviewed in India on 13 March 2021
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best 2021 releases!
By Reading_Tam_Ishly on 13 March 2021
Middle grade

*Book in verse

*Handles difficult parents and siblings, bullying and its consequences, therapy and how to handle bullies and what we can do about it

*Hits home with realistic writing, plot, characters and ending

*Parents do not know everything; they can be the worst bullies and they can be the most harmful in a child's life

*Appearances aren't everything

*Love, trust and respect start from our own homes

This book just made it to my top 10 2021 reads!
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One person found this helpful
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Top reviews from other countries

5.0 out of 5 stars Wholesome and empowering
Reviewed in Canada on 27 November 2021
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5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible
Reviewed in Canada on 25 November 2021
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Sarah S.
5.0 out of 5 stars World changing
Reviewed in the United States on 11 March 2021
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5.0 out of 5 stars World changing
Reviewed in the United States on 10 March 2021
This book speaks directly to the child I was. I've never felt my childhood school experiences more clearly seen than in this book. It is a compelling, brutal read with a hopeful finish. I want to put it in the hands of every kid like I was, every kid who stands by and allows bullying to continue, every bully, and every parent of a kid like Ellie.
I have added it to my classroom library and am donating a copy to the school library. I'm hopeful that it can be world changing to my students.
It is definitely a fifth grade and above read, and is intense in some spots where it describes humiliating interactions with her classmates, the public, and her family. There are helpful adults sprinkled throughout to help Ellie on her journey.
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15 people found this helpful
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Tess Eggleston
5.0 out of 5 stars Sensitively Told
Reviewed in the United States on 2 April 2021
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11 people found this helpful
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Julie Kennard
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful
Reviewed in the United States on 17 April 2021
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6 people found this helpful
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