Author Fridrik Erlings perfectly captures the turmoil of being a teenager in his awkward and honest Fish in the Sky. Josh Stephenson’s life changes the moment he turns 13 in a clever series of events: His absent father sends him a famous taxidermied falcon, his attractive 17-year-old cousin moves into his closet, he falls in love with a classmate and, most frighteningly, his newly changing body promises to cause him plenty of embarrassment in the locker room. What’s a boy to do? Play hooky, of course!

Unafraid to question God, sexuality, love and even identity, Fish in the Sky rings wonderfully true for today’s tween. Not only does the novel ask important questions, it answers them, such as during Josh’s discovery of pornography as he struggles with the opposite sex. Through these first experiences, Josh is eventually able to embrace the changes in his life and learn from them.

Fish in the Sky begins with angst and self-loathing and ends with self-acceptance. Young readers will learn that we must each go through our own journey of self-discovery and forgive ourselves for the mistakes we made along the way. It’s an important message for every child navigating the path toward adulthood—and a good reminder for parents who may have forgotten how difficult the teenage road can seem.

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