Synopsis: 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.
Huge thank you to Natalie Whipple for this ARC!
Fish Out of Water is not what you expect. It’s got a swell romance, handles some interesting issues, and is just insanely sweet to read. I found it to be a bit slow at first, but I’m happy I stuck with it because the story grew on me as I read on.
Mika is a somewhat unusual heroine in that she actually likes her part-time job. Can I just say that I’ve never really seen that in a YA novel? Sure, girls like the job when there’s a hot boy involved, but Mika genuinely likes her job. It’s cute, it’s odd, I liked it. Actually, to be honest, I loved reading about the antics in the AnimalZone, and seeing her come out of her shell in various ways. Whipple does this great job of giving the reader this gradual build in Mika’s growth, one that feels so organically done.
There there’s all the sacrifice. In a lot of ways, this story is a lot about that word, and it’s one that a lot of people struggle with. That being forced to give something up even though you know it’s the right thing to do. Sometimes they have to be made, and I feel like the characters in this novel learn it the hard way, and it’s completely believable. It’s hard to make sacrifices when someone is ill in your life, and that’s where part of this story admittedly mirrored parts of my own life. I understood Mika, her frustrations, because taking care of someone else is :not an easy job, and sometimes it can feel a little thankless, even if those you love appreciate it.
I thought a lot of the characters were wonderful and diverse. Oddly the character I did have a hard time with, was the love interest Dylan. He rubbed me the wrong way, and I didn’t really care for him at first. But much like this novel, he grew on me, but I still found myself not entirely bought in to his genuineness considering the horrific thing he does in the story. It did have a hard time with that and even though there’s cute fluff between he and Mika, I still feel like this resolved a bit too neatly.
Still, I think Fish Out of Water is a wonderfully clever, quirky little read. It’s got a lot of great elements and the charm simply oozes in ways that a lot of contemporary novels miss. I highly recommend checking it out — it definitely has something for every kind of reader.