Fish Out of Water by Natalie Whipple
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Released: February 5th 2015
My Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
Mika Arlington was supposed to spend the summer after her junior year shadowing her marine biologist parents at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, but when her estranged grandmother randomly shows up on the doorstep one day, those plans are derailed. Because Grandma Betty isn't here to play nice—she is cranky, intolerant of Mika's mixed-race-couple parents, and oh yeah she has Alzheimer's and is out of money. While Mika's family would rather not deal with Grandma Betty, they don't have much choice. And despite Mika's protests, she is roped into caring for a person that seems impossible to have compassion for. And if that wasn't hard enough, Mika must train the new guy at her pet shop job who wants to be anywhere else, and help a friend through her own family crisis. Something's gotta a give, but whichever ball Mika drops means losing someone she loves. Not exactly a recipe for Best Summer Ever—or is it? (from Goodreads)
This book. I did not know how much I needed this book right now. After the horror that was my exams I really wanted a book that would just make me feel better, and this was it. This was the exact book I needed, and I am so glad I waited until now to read it.
I loved practically all the main characters. Mika was awesome. I liked that she was so passionate about fish and marine biology and I could understand how disappointed and upset she was about losing her internship to look after her grandmother, Betty. She had been waiting for so long for that opportunity to arise and she had to give it up for some woman she had only just met. And this was a woman who had basically disowned her son for marrying a Japanese woman instead of someone white, who insulted her and made racist comments and was horrible to her whole family - I honestly don’t know if I could have adjusted the way Mika did. Her grandmother had Alzheimer’s as well, which I think was depicted pretty well in the book (though I have never had a close family member with Alzheimer’s so I don’t have a lot to compare to). It was an awful illness and you could see how frustrating it was not just for Mika and her family, but for Betty herself. I loved the way Mika slowly began to start caring for her grandmother and became closer to her (and vice versa). She had an internal struggle; she couldn’t stand her grandmother’s racist and backwards attitude but at the same time, it was her grandmother, and she was sick, and she didn’t want to lash out and make her even more ill. And in Betty’s more lucid days, Mika could tell that Betty no longer truly meant some of the things she said, but that didn't make it any less horrible to hear, so a lot of the time Mika was unsure of what to do. It was interesting to see how accustomed she had become to have Betty in her life and how much things had changed from the beginning of the book.
Dylan, well. He was the new employee at AnimalZone, where Mika worked, and her boss’s nephew. I didn’t like him at first, but you weren’t supposed to. He grew on me though. Oh did he grow on me. I completely loved him by the end. He really wanted to change, to not be the spoilt rich boy he was before and to actually make something of his life through his own efforts. He was trying so hard! To be better, to learn from his uncle (who was like, the world’s greatest boss), to be someone Mika could rely on. He made a few mistakes along the way (that note could not have been more vague. And I know he didn’t know Mika had this fear of people leaving her [which I thought was portrayed very well in the book] and I know she may have doubted him too soon, but seriously, write a more detailed note!). The romance was so cute I wanted to cry. It started off as a sort of love-hate relationship that developed into the most adorable thing ever. These characters definitely had chemistry and ah! I loved it.
I really liked Mika’s friends too. Shreya had her own problems (which were very similar to what happened to Mika’s mum and dad) concerning the fact that her parents had disowned her brother. She turned to Mika when she didn’t have anywhere else to go and they both supported each other through their respective issues, along with their other friend Olivia, and I really like the way their friendship was portrayed. They all really cared about other and it was nice to see such strong friendships. While there was some tension between the friends sometimes, it wasn’t over the top and dramatic or cat-fighty like you see in films where it’s like the creators think cat-fights are the only way teenage girls know how to behave - uh, no, film people. Do some research.
Plot-wise, I sort of predicted the drama-y bit that happened towards the end but I still really enjoyed reading those scenes, especially the part where Mika and her grandmother bonded. I also think that the issues in this book were covered really well. Things weren’t sugar coated, or made extreme. It seemed like really people dealing with issues that could really happen and I liked that. I also liked reading about how each character developed - everyone had changed a little by the end, but Mika and Dylan especially. Mika had gotten over her fears, I think, and Dylan - well he was just an all-round better person. I also loved the way this book ended because ugh, it was so cute. I am such a sucker for these cute romances, I can’t even tell you.
Overall, I really, really loved this book. It’s an absolutely perfect read for summer. Recommended to all contemp fans and people starting out in the genre.