Top positive review
... about a grumpy seventy-six year old scientist could be sweet and thought provoking
Reviewed in India 🇮🇳 on 27 November 2016
Who would have thought that a book about a grumpy seventy-six year old scientist could be sweet and thought provoking? The Fourteenth Goldfish is the story of Dr. Melvin Sagarsky, a scientist with two PhDs, several research papers and an official fan club (in Finland!) to his credit, and his granddaughter, eleven year old Ellie. Melvin is easily irritable, has strong likes and dislikes and is very vocal with his opinions. He is at ideological loggerheads with his daughter, Ellie's mother, because she chose to major in drama rather than science and is now a dramatics teacher rather than the PhD-holding academic he wanted her to be.
One fine day, two things happen- Ellie's babysitter quits, and Ellie's mother gets an emergency call from the police. She gets back from the station with a crabby teenager in tow, who seems both familiar yet unknown at the same time. But when he opens his mouth to criticise Ellie's mother, Ellie realises that its her grandfather Melvin, who has managed to find a way to reverse ageing, and is now a thirteen year old boy. Since he has been charged with trespassing (he has been trying to get into his lab, not realising that a teenager would not be allowed inside a sophisticated laboratory) he has to stay with Ellie's mother as his guardian. Ellie's mother promptly appoints him as Ellie's babysitter, which means that Ellie and Melvin spend a lot of time together every day.
Melvin might have the body of a teenager but his mind is still that of a seventy six year old scientist. So there are grumbles and bickering every day between him and Ellie's mom. But Ellie and Melvin form a unique friendship of their own. Melvin tells Ellie stories of great scientists like Galileo and Oppenheimer and how scientists believe in the possible- that is, they believe that it is possible to come up with solutions to what appear as insurmountable problems, and hence, they never give up. These stories make Ellie realise that she has found her passion- science.
Melvin is dead set on announcing his groundbreaking achievement of age reversal so that he can win the Nobel prize. But as Ellie's life slowly changes-she and her best friend drift apart due to diverse interests, she makes friends with a boy whom she would never have imagined being friends with, finds the confidence to have get onto the dance floor and have some fun- she realises that life is MEANT to change. You cannot hold on to it, you must go with the flow. You cannot reverse life or hold on to youth the way Melvin intends to do.
To know whether or not Ellie manages to convince Melvin, and to know the story behind why the book is called The Fourteenth Goldfish, you will have to read the book! :)
Recommended for children aged 11-13 years.