From acclaimed author of Maybe He Just Likes You and Halfway Normal comes a powerful and moving story of learning how to grow, change, and survive.
When twelve-year-old Zinnia Manning’s older brother Gabriel is diagnosed with a mental illness, the family’s world is turned upside down. Mom and Dad want Zinny, her sixteen-year-old sister, Scarlett, and her eight-year-old brother, Aiden, to keep Gabriel’s condition “private”—and to Zinny that sounds the same as “secret.” Which means she can’t talk about it to her two best friends, who don’t understand why Zinny keeps pushing them away, turning everything into a joke.
It also means she can’t talk about it during Lunch Club, a group run by the school guidance counselor. How did Zinny get stuck in this weird club, anyway? She certainly doesn’t have anything in common with these kids—and even if she did, she’d never betray her family’s secret.
The only good thing about school is science class, where cool teacher Ms. Molina has them doing experiments on crayfish. And when Zinny has the chance to attend a dream marine biology camp for the summer, she doesn’t know what to do. How can Zinny move forward when Gabriel—and, really, her whole family—still needs her help?
About the Author
Barbara Dee is the author of twelve middle grade novels published by Simon & Schuster, including Violets Are Blue, My Life in the Fish Tank, Maybe He Just Likes You, Everything I Know About You, Halfway Normal, and Star-Crossed. Her books have earned several starred reviews and have been named to many best-of lists, including the The Washington Post’s Best Children’s Books, the ALA Notable Children’s Books, the ALA Rise: A Feminist Book Project List, the NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, and the ALA Rainbow List Top Ten. Barbara lives with her family, including a naughty cat named Luna and a sweet rescue hound named Ripley, in Westchester County, New York.
“I loved My Life in the Fish Tank. Once again, Barbara Dee writes about important topics with intelligence, nuance and grace. She earned all the accolades for Maybe He Just Likes You and will earn them for My Life in the Fish Tank too.”
— Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, author of Fighting Words and Newbery Honor Book The War That Saved My Life
”I felt every beat of Zinny Manning’s heart in this authentic and affecting story. Barbara Dee consistently has her finger on the pulse of her middle grade audience. Outstanding!”
— Leslie Connor, A Home for Goddesses and Dogs and The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle (National Book Award Finalist)
“Barbara Dee offers a deeply compassionate look at life for twelve-year-old Zinny, whose older brother faces mental health challenges. This touching novel will go a long way in providing understanding and empathy for young readers. Highly recommended.”
— Donna Gephart, award-winning author of Lily and Dunkin and The Paris Project
“My Life in the Fish Tank rings true for its humor, insight, and honesty. Zinny is an appealing narrator, and her friendships with supporting characters are beautifully drawn.”
— Laura Shovan, author of Takedown and A Place at the Table
"MY LIFE IN THE FISH TANK is a powerful portrayal of a twelve-year old dealing with her sibling’s newly discovered mental illness. Author Barbara Dee deftly weaves in themes of friendship, family, and secrets, while also reminding us all to accept what we can’t control. I truly loved every moment of this emotional and gripping novel, with its notes of hope that linger long after the last page."
— Lindsay Currie, author of The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street and Scritch-Scratch.
"Instilled with humor, the plot offers a layered narrative with occasional verse, perfect for readers looking for something a little extra special. Realistic and sympathetic, this demonstrates a successful, meaningful, and responsible discussion around mental health for all ages."
"With sensitivity and skillful storytelling, Dee portrays a difficult subject in an engrossing, accessible way."
— Publishers Weekly