“An entire life devoted to a fishbowl will make one die an old fish with not one adventure had.”
When I started reading this book, it did not take me long to realize that I was going to love it. This book is definitely one of my favourite books of the year, and I can see it being one of my favourite books of all time. The funny thing about it is, I think I loved it so much because I was in the perfect mood for it. If my mood was just a little off, I could see myself not liking it as much, however here we are! It’s funny how you can read a certain book at the perfect time and pace, making it one of your favourites.
Fishbowl is about a fish named Ian who has jumped off a twenty seven storey apartment building. On his way down, he catches little glimpses into the lives of the residents of the building. The novel shifts between the perspectives of nine or ten of the residents (including Ian) and we simply get to see the lives being led within the confines of the walls. Admittedly, the moments we get to see are pretty interesting, as some of the characters include a young woman and the man who is cheating on her, a pregnant lady, a shut-in, and a homeschooled boy. I just loved reading the tidbits of their lives that took place in the minutes leading up to and during Ian’s suicide. It goes to show that the walls of a house or apartment building are full of life, love, heartbreak, death, our whole histories and the endless future.
I think the reason I love this book so much is that I really love character stories, and the point of this book was to learn about these characters and their lives. There were certain stories I liked following more than others, such as the infidelity saga between Katie, the villain Connor and the seductress Fae, and the struggle of pregnant Petunia Delilah while she is in labour. Each character’s story was charming in its own way, but the best part was seeing their stories intertwine, whether it be two characters passing each other in the hallway, or being together for almost the entirety of the novel.
In a literary sense, I think this novel is brilliant with its metaphors and the message it wants to leave with readers. I can see this being a book that I would study with my classes, even though I know a high school wouldn’t let me study it due to sexual elements and language (boo). But the moments, characters, and metaphors in this book really struck me. The English major in me can’t help but see Ian and his fishbowl as a microcosm of the apartment building and its residents, and the residents being a representation of human beings as a whole. Ian, a goldfish who has been confined to his fishbowl for his entire life, made the decision to take a leap of faith and see the world. All of the characters we meet lead their lives in the four concrete walls of the apartment building, and each and every one of them need to be brave some way in the moments we see them. They are all faced with a situation where they need to take a leap of faith, just like Ian’s literal leap from the balcony. The message of overcoming fears and living your life to the fullest is a beautiful theme that made me fall in love with this book and its method of storytelling.
I highly recommend this book if you are in the mood for a more thematic or character driven story. Don’t get me wrong, some of these stories are intense; I mean a pregnant lady in labour roaming the halls? That kept me on my toes. I love this book so much, which is funny considering I hadn’t heard of it a month ago. I really enjoy Bradley Somer’s writing style, and I know he has another book called Imperfections that I want to take a look at. Man oh man, I love discovering new favourites!
To learn more about Bradley Somer and his work, visit his website here –> https://bradleysomer.com/
To watch a really cute book trailer for Fishbowl you can click here –> https://bradleysomer.com/2014/11/10/fishbowl-the-novel-page/