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The Goldfish Boy: 09/30/17

The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson

The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson is a middle grade mystery similar to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (2003) by Mark Haddon. Matthew Corbin, who has been living in his room, afraid of the germs around him, is the best eye witness the the disappearance of a toddler. With the help of two other kids on the block he begins the task of finding him.

The book's blurb describes Matthew as suffering "from severe obsessive-compulsive disorder." And while he shows the symptoms of OCD it should be noted that he hasn't been diagnosed. He does have a therapist but this mystery is taking place in the early days of his treatment and there's no formal diagnosis. This is important because the story is as much about Matthew and his family trying to understand and cope with his situation as it is a missing child story.

The title comes from a mocking nickname the next door sister gives him, as she sees him watching the street from his window every day. She and her brother are staying at their grandfather's house while their mother is in the United States on business. He is ill prepared for watching two young children and is more interested in caring for his garden than his grandchildren.

Matthew works with the girl across the street who likes to wander into the cemetery at the end of the lane, and a former best friend who has turned bully in the last few years. Rather than making their collaboration a forced one by adults or circumstance, this one is more organic. For whatever their individual motivations, all three want to find the missing toddler. They each have skills and knowledge that can solve the mystery.

Over the course of the summer while Matthew is trying to find the boy, trying to survive his compulsions to clean and his fears of certain times of the day, we're given insights into what led to his self induced isolation.

Five stars

Comments (2)

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Comment #1: Monday, October 02, 2017 at 12:37:50

Beth @ LIbrary Chicken

In fairness to the blurb, he does get diagnosed towards the end. But a lot of the beginning is spent with his parents and him not understanding what is going on or how to deal with it. I did find the "cause" and "cure" of the OCD more simplistic, but the details of the effects on his life and the daily routines were powerful.

Comment #2: Monday, October 02, 2017 at 20:21:00


The conclusion seems to be in the hope that he'll make progress now that's he's been diagnosed and has managed to work through the worst of it on his own. I might have been a little harsher with my review if I had read it after reading Finding Audrey which starts well after the main character has been diagnosed and has been working with a therapist for a number of months.

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