Ellie, beginning middle school with a best friend who has just found a passion in volleyball, is dismayed over the changes happening in her life when a surly, grouchy teenager steps into her life. This teenager happens to be her grandfather, a scientist made young again as the result of an anti-aging experiment. Forced to attend school with Ellie, Melvin, her grandfather, has a contentious relationship with Ellie's mother, despite their reversed roles. Worse, he's been kicked out of his own scientific laboratory as a trespassing teenager! As Ellie tries to help her grandfather retrieve his scientific formula, she learns about famous scientists, her mother's rebellion in choosing the arts over science, and even her own proclivity toward scientific thinking.
This is the first book I've read by Jennifer L. Holm. The cover art is eye-catching and cute in this fun and engaging middle grade read. The story is charming while departing astute observations on family dynamics. Ellie's divorce parents not only parent without dysfunction, but they are actually friendly toward each other. And Ellie discovers that despite her grandfather's and mother's oil-and-water relationship, she actually identifies with her grandfather's scientific obsession. The Fourteenth Goldfish is a humorous, enjoyable, speedy read, not laden with heavy vocabulary, and filled with realistic, identifiable characters. I hope we'll see more middle grade books coming from Jennifer L. Holm!