Publication Date: February 5th, 2015
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Age Category: Middle Grade (MG)
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
“Fans of R.J. Palacio’s Wonder will appreciate this feel-good story of friendship and unconventional smarts.” —Kirkus Reviews
Ally has been smart enough to fool a lot of smart people. Every time she lands in a new school, she is able to hide her inability to read by creating clever yet disruptive distractions. She is afraid to ask for help; after all, how can you cure dumb? However, her newest teacher Mr. Daniels sees the bright, creative kid underneath the trouble maker. With his help, Ally learns not to be so hard on herself and that dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of. As her confidence grows, Ally feels free to be herself and the world starts opening up with possibilities. She discovers that there’s a lot more to her—and to everyone—than a label.
A New York Times Bestseller!
With her father deployed in the Army, Ally Nickerson has transferred to seven schools within the past seven years, and each time its the same story: her teacher asks her to read aloud to the class, she creates a distraction, and she gets sent to the principal’s office. Little does everyone know, Ally’s antics are only a method to cover up the fact that she doesn’t know how to read. But when Ally gains a new teacher, Mr. Daniels, who sees the super smart kid hidden behind her explosions, she begins to embrace the things that make her–and her classmates–unique.
The protagonist, Ally, could not be more relatable and realistic. Although she’s super creative and intelligent, which was put on display in the first-person POV, she started off lacking the vision of how awesome she really is. I think that most, if not all, kids have felt out of place at least once in their life, and Ally is a great representation of what it means to come from a place of wanting to be like everyone else to embracing not fitting in. Which in her case, is dyslexia.
"One thing's for sure. We're not gonna fit in, but we're gonna stand out. All three of us. You wait and see. You're going to be a famous artist and Albert is going to cure cancer or invent talking fish or something."
But I can’t go without mentioning the best friends that Ally makes on her journey to self esteem. Introverted Albert, who is basically a human encyclopedia who gets teased for being “nerdy”, and fun-loving Keisha, a girl with a passion for baking who happens to be the only black person in her class, form a bond with Ally because of their differences. Don’t get me wrong: I absolutely love Ally as a character. . . but Albert and Keisha stole the show, for me.
They were both involved in little sub-plots of the book, but I really liked how they all related to a common theme. And honestly, the entire novel wouldn’t be the same without the trio’s wholesome friendship. I could see both Keisha and Albert being the main character of their own novel.
Ally also faces bullying throughout the course of the novel by a girl named Shay, and I will give the author props that she did a great job with making her unlikeable. Let’s just say that Shay will probably remind you of a girl or two that we’ve all had in our class. But I really appreciate how Ally learns to rise above the bullying by holding her an olive branch. It was almost like when Ally learned how to love herself, she began to embrace other people–even those who did her wrong–that much more. And that was a sweet addition to this novel that I couldn’t help but appreciate.
“You know, a wise person once said, ‘Everyone is smart in their own way, but if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life thinking that its stupid.'”
If you’ve been here for a while, you already know how I’d been raving about the book Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper. And while that book is great, and all . . . I think I may officially have a new favorite! I would agree that for tweens and teens who are fans of classic stories like Wonder, Out of My Mind, or any other story about “the underdogs” learning to love what makes them unique, Fish in a Tree is an absolute must-read!
Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5 stars, and if I was able to give it 6 stars, I would!)
Recommended Age: for readers 11+
So that was my review of Fish in a Tree, and I’ve got to say that it was such a great read! I may even have to read it again, in the near future! If you’ve already read this masterpiece, I’d love to hear some of your takeaways and thoughts on it! But if not, I highly encourage you to give it a shot!
Thanks so much for stopping by! God bless you all, and I will catch you later! Peace in! ♡