By turns poignant, funny, and heartbreaking, Fishbowl by Bradley Somer is a book that I will not soon forget. On the surface, Fishbowl is about…well, a fish. Ian, the goldfish, leaves his secure little bowl and begins a plummet from the 27th floor. On the way down, Ian gets a glimpse into the lives of the residents of The Seville on Roxy the building where he lives.
Each chapter is a vignette about a resident. Connor, Ian’s owner, is dating a sweet girl named Katie. When Katie comes to visit, Connor is forced to ask his latest liaison, Faye to leave by the stairs. Other residents include Claire, who is agoraphobic but prolific in the naughty talk that her job requires. She has an encounter with the autistic and home schooled Herman, as well as the very pregnant Petunia Delilah. Also in residence is Jimenez, the under-appreciated maintenance man of the building. His fiddling with the broken elevator in the building leads to disaster for one of the residents. Finally, a very lonely construction worker, Garth, receives a mysterious package that just might provide him some much-needed joy.
The residents of the Seville on Roxy live solitary lives and have difficulty connecting to one another. Fishbowl is about how each character tries, to various degrees of success, to become less lonely. It is about how, even steady and calm lives, can change in an instant. It is about the power each of the characters can choose to be brave, to be different, and to break out of their patterns. I found myself thinking about how people live at the same time, separately, until they interact with each other and are changed by the meeting. I loved how each character was a fully realized person, and though they were all flawed, I enjoyed reading about each one.
Fishbowl is an inventive, touching story—one that is hard to categorize. But I found myself cheering for the bravery of the ordinary people in this story who make changes—whether big or small. And I found myself rooting for a goldfish falling from the 27th floor.
Highly, highly recommended. I will be thinking about this one for while. Supremely entertaining!
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Regina