Review Blog

Jan 12 2012

Bluefish by Pat Schmatz

cover image

Candlewick Press, 2011. ISBN: 9780763653347.
(Age: 16+) Highly recommended. Bluefish is primarily the story of Travis, a troubled and illiterate teenager, but readers will also be charmed by the character of Velveeta who befriends him. It is set in a small town in the U.S. and includes some thought provoking and vivid descriptions of Trailer Park life. The point of view switches between Travis and Velveeta with each chapter. Travis's perspective is revealed in the third person and Velveeta's in journal form.
There are many secrets in the lives of these two characters and the compulsion to keep reading until the story is finished is strong. There are strong messages of hope and resilience as Travis learns to trust others, including his inspiring reading teacher, and we witness his anger and bitterness begin to fade.
I found the story highly emotional, especially the descriptions of the huge challenges Travis has in learning to read. The author cleverly weaves in references to one of my favourite books The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. Lovers of Doctor Seuss will also enjoy the explanation of the book's title.
This book could be a useful Year 11 English Communications text but also a great paired text with other stories of hope, forgiveness and struggle.
Chris Lloyd

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