Title: Fish Out of Water
Author: Natalie Whipple
Genre: YA Contemporary
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Received via author
Mika is about to fulfill her dream of working at the world famous Monterey Bay Aquarium when her plans are derailed by an unexpected arrival-her estranged grandmother Betty. Betty has dementia, and is no longer able to take care of herself. Betty is in need of her family's help-and she's not going to be particularly nice about it. Mika has to give up her summer internship at the Aquarium and stick to working part-time at AnimalZone in order to take care of Betty. The manager at AnimalZone has hired his nephew Dylan to work there, and Mika thinks he's entitled and annoying. Or is he just trying to become a better person? Mika is trying to be as patient as possible with her grandma-but Betty doesn't make that easy. And neither does Dylan.
I loved this story. It was cute, and fun, and may have been fluffy but it totally worked. I loved the characters, and the diversity, and the setting, and how perfectly everything was portrayed.
Our main character is Mika. Mika loves fish. Her parents are marine biologists at the Aquarium, where she is hoping to get an internship over the summer, in addition to her job at the pet shop. But suddenly, her perfect summer ends up not-so-perfect. Her grandmother Betty shows up. The grandmother Mika has never seen because she's racist against Mika's Japanese mother. The grandmother who now has Alzheimer's and oh, guess who gets to watch her during the summer? To make matters worse, her boss's nephew is working at the pet shop, and he's more than kind of a jerk.
I loved Mika. Mika has her passion, and she doesn't care if anyone else thinks it's weird. I also found her pretty smart and mature for her age. Her schpiel about how "if it's true goldfish have such a short memory, shouldn't we make every memory a good one?" and how she later learned to apply that to her grandmother really stuck with me. Yeah, Mika has her moments of acting out, of overreacting, of basically being a dumb teenager. But she also realizes it, and tries to keep it from happening again. And I mean, she's pretty entitled to her feeling. Between her grandmother and Dylan, she's dealing with a lot.
Once Dylan gets over his entitlement and arrogance, he was a pretty decent guy. He makes mistakes, but he also learns from them. I do tend to like my hate-then-love romances, and this one was done pretty well. I wasn't particularily swooned by him, although he was still pretty hot.
But this is more than just a romance. I mentioned the diversity, and this one deals with it so well. Not just having diverse characters, but showcasing what it's like, and also the issues that still go on, even though we like to think they don't. From Mika and her mom dealing with racism from her own grandmother, to her friend Shreya and her Indian parents' old-fashioned ways. (I mean, duh I have a little more love for Indian characters, I'm biased after all. But also, so much food! I was hungry by the end of it. Seriously. Raging for some butter chicken and naan right now.)
Mika also deals with the big issues, like her grandmother's Alzheimer's and how to care for someone like that. It's hard, but I admire Mika and how she dealt with that.
Sure, you have some of your typical romance cliches, especially at the end but I was totally sucked in to the story by this point. If you love contemporary, then this is the book for you. But don't be fooled: while it might seem like a fluffy romance, it deals with so much more than that. I loved it.
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