Lisa Fipps

  • Review
By – August 16, 2021

Ellie Mont­gomery-Hof­stein received the nick­name Splash” at her fifth birth­day par­ty when she dressed up in a whale cos­tume and can­non­balled into a pool. Ever since then, she’s faced bul­lies at school and with­in her own fam­i­ly, hold­ing onto her list of Fat Girl Rules” to help her cope. The pool is the only place she feels safe enough to take up space. When Ellie’s dad takes her to see a ther­a­pist, she starts to under­stand what it means to defend her­self. Ellie and her mom strug­gle to com­mu­ni­cate, and it’s not until her mom takes Ellie to see a doc­tor about under­go­ing life-threat­en­ing weight loss surgery that Ellie finds her true strength.

Starfish is writ­ten in verse, mak­ing it a quick but very pow­er­ful read. Each poem gives an inti­mate look into Ellie’s life and true feel­ings. Her growth and char­ac­ter devel­op­ment are pal­pa­ble because Ellie’s emo­tions are effec­tive­ly pre­sent­ed through the poet­ry. The themes of body pos­i­tiv­i­ty and anti-bul­ly­ing fur­ther the mes­sage of the sto­ry, espe­cial­ly because the oppo­site of both runs ram­pant in ado­les­cence. The book also high­lights life in an inter­faith house­hold, where Ellie’s father is Jew­ish and her moth­er is Chris­t­ian. Both par­ents encour­age their chil­dren to choose which reli­gion they wish to fol­low, with Ellie adopt­ing ele­ments of both.

Lisa Fipps has writ­ten an extreme­ly engag­ing sto­ry that evokes many emo­tions. This pow­er­ful series of poems is a won­der­ful com­ing-of-age sto­ry, relat­able to both adults and youths.

Eliz­a­beth Slot­nick works in the tech­nol­o­gy space but has a grow­ing pres­ence on book­sta­gram, where she reviews books span­ning across all gen­res. She grad­u­at­ed from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Vir­ginia and lives in Seat­tle, WA.

Discussion Questions