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Finding Fish

Finding Fish

4.7 100
by Antwone Fisher, Mim E. Rivas

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Born in prison to a single mother, Antwone Fisher was a ward of Cleveland's foster care system until he was taken in by a family who subjected him to verbal and sexual abuse throughout his adolescence. At 17, Fish escaped, only to suffer the hardships of life on the streets. Enlisting in the U.S. Navy, he found a "family" of his own. But before he could make peace


Born in prison to a single mother, Antwone Fisher was a ward of Cleveland's foster care system until he was taken in by a family who subjected him to verbal and sexual abuse throughout his adolescence. At 17, Fish escaped, only to suffer the hardships of life on the streets. Enlisting in the U.S. Navy, he found a "family" of his own. But before he could make peace with his past, he had to discover who he really was and where he came from—an inspiring, fascinating journey that lead from the mean streets of Cleveland to the highest echelons in Hollywood.

About the Authors:
Antowne Q. Fisher is a producer and screenwriter working in Hollywood. He lives in Los Angeles, CA.

Mim E. Rivas has worked on more than 10 books, including Betty DeGeneres's Love, Ellen: A Mother/Daughter Journey

Editorial Reviews

Finding Fish is the extraordinary memoir of a young man who grew up in a daunting environment. Born to a single mother in prison, Fisher matured despite the savage discipline of a foster home and the sexual assault of a female neighbor.
Finding Fish, compellingly read by Alton Fitzgerald White, is [Antwone Fisher's]story, told with candor and without self-pity.
Denzel Washington
Finding Fish reads like a great work of fiction, moving me alternately to tears and laughter, sorrow and joy, and making me forget at times that the story is in fact astonishingly true. Antwone Fisher's journey is truly a triumph of the spirit, the story of a boy born into circumstances that few of us could withstand, yet who not only survives, but goes on to remarkable success beyond most of our dreams. In a voice that is authentic and raw, Antwone tells of the power of finding one's voice as an artist and a human being. I hope this book is embraced by readers of every color and age.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
An unflinching look at the adverse effects foster care can have on a child's life, this stunning autobiography rises above the pack of success fables from survivors of America's inner cities. Born in the 1950s to an underage single mother serving time in prison for murder, Fisher was placed in the home of a staunch minister and his wife, who appeared to be a loving couple to the series of foster care workers who monitored their home in one of Cleveland's working-class neighborhoods. Writing in a deft mix of elegant prose and forceful dialect, Fisher is especially adept at dramatizing the tactics of control and intimidation practiced by his foster mother on the abused children in her care, such as crushing Fisher's self-esteem by calling him worthless, shaming one girl after she began her period and making the boys bathe with Clorox. (Fisher supports his detailed recollections with excerpts from the actual foster-care records.) An added bonus is the author's vibrant recreation of several key black neighborhoods in Cleveland during the golden age of the Black Power movement, before the areas disappeared under the aegis of urban "renewal." If a major feature of survival memoirs is their ability to impress readers with the subject's long, steady climb to redemption and excellence, then this engrossing book is a classic. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Once people called him Baby Boy Fisher. Later he was Twonny, Nigga, or Fish. Now, he is Antwone Quenton Fisher, successful screenwriter and producer. He was born in a prison hospital facility to a seventeen-year-old single mother. Caseworkers moved him from an orphanage into a succession of two foster homes in which he endured thirteen years of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. A reform school offered the shy and withdrawn child a measure of stability before he was plunged into the horrors of homelessness and life on the fringes of crime. A fortunate chance to enlist in the military set his life on a positive path. The United States Navy became the family he never had, nurturing and developing his extraordinary talents for poetry and storytelling. Screenwriter of Double-O-Soul and Jelly Beans, ultimately this throwaway child became one of the most sought-after screenwriters in Hollywood. Detailing life from abandonment through despair to triumph, this book is a powerful and poetic autobiography as gripping as any novel. Fisher manages to avoid self-pity and anger as he describes in matter-of-fact and moving narrative how a flawed and over-stretched social welfare system almost destroyed a child. Give this rich and extraordinary book to older teens who will laugh and cry with Fish as they share his journey to self-knowledge. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P S A/YA (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult). 2001, HarperCollins, 340p, $25. Ages 15 to Adult. Reviewer: Jamie S. Hansen
Library Journal
Fisher's early life could have destroyed him: born to an unwed mother in a juvenile facility and a father who was killed by another girlfriend, he was sent to an abusive foster mother who eventually threw him out. Fisher found himself on the street, but he was lucky. He had a teacher who encouraged him to reach for his goals, social workers who tried to help, and other mentors who saw the good in him and forced him to try harder. Fisher is a phenomenal writer who tells his story in a straightforward fashion, using beautiful language. Listeners will get caught up in tales of his foster siblings and neighborhood friends; they will root for him to overcome his encounters with drug dealers; and they will cheer his success and the love he has found with his birth family and his wife and daughter. Alton Fitzgerald White does a fine job helping to bring the young Fisher to life. The author himself takes over the reading at the end, relating what led to his starting a new career as a screenwriter. An excellent production; for all libraries. Danna Bell-Russel, Library of Congress Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Producer and screenwriter Fisher debuts as a memoirist of first rank with his moving and unsparing story about growing up an African-American ward of the state in Cleveland in the 1960s and '70s. A foster child from day one—Fisher was born in prison to a single mother, and his father was shot and killed by another girlfriend—the author came to live with the Pickett family, an older couple with grown children who boarded other foster children primarily for financial gain. Subjected to routine physical and emotional abuse by Mrs. Pickett (and sexual abuse by a neighbor),"Fish," as he was called, coped by keeping his thoughts and feelings hidden and living for the brief, unexpected moments of kindness and understanding from teachers and social workers. Deeply shy and lacking self-esteem, he escaped the foster-care system just before his 18th birthday, only to face the harsh reality of homelessness. It was not until he enlisted in the Navy that Fish learned to trust himself and others, to experience friendship and love; he even gained the courage to revisit his childhood home and find the extended family he had never known. While in the service Fish also discovered that he had a gift with words—and it is precisely this talent that breathes pleasure into what could be an unremittingly depressing tale. His observations about the changing neighborhoods of Cleveland or the just-out-of-reach efforts of those who tried to help are rendered keenly and poignantly, and his superb narrative choices and control bring the grim realities (as well as interior emotional pivots) of his life into sharp relief. A striking and original story of the journey from troubled childhoodtoself-awareadult, Fisher's account strikes the universal chords so often missing from contemporary memoir. Film rights to Denzel Washington/20th Century Fox; author tour

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.96(d)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

If I follow the path of memory back to its start, I begin life looking out my upstairs bedroom window. It's here I have my best daydreams and where I can make up stories I like to think about. In my mind's first flash of light, I am here, on the inside looking out of the Picketts' two-story house on a street at the edge of Glenville, the second house from the corner, a block from 105. This is a snowcovered morning when the other kids, already school age, are gone and I'm alone, staring out into the blinding whiteness, thinking it's no fun being left behind, no one to play with.

There is something about being at this window that makes me feel safe. Depends on the smell, though. Young as I am, I have already learned to tell what kind of day it's going to be by the scent of the air in the morning. I can smell rain coming. Not just rain and weather and snow, like now, but other clues. Pancakes on the stove, I know it's going to be a good day. The smell of eggs and grits or water steaming off the driveway after Mizz Pickett hoses it down, either one means I better be on the lookout all day.

I squint my eyes real hard and try to use my special heat-ray vision to melt all the snow. Nothing happens. My powers must need more practice, I decide. Maybe I should try the looking-through-walls trick. That way, I can catch everybody in their alien monster faces.

Yep, everybody in this house, except me -- aliens. Mizz Pickett, the alien leader, Reverend Pickett (her trusty sidekick), and their older kids, whose last names are Pickett. Even Dwight and Flo, who have different last names, like me. Children aliens. They just have to pretend to bescared, so I think they're human like me.

The thing about aliens is that when I'm not in the room they don't have on their human faces. And they have kind of goat bodies with hooves and horns and Devil bugging-out eyeballs and long black sideburns. But just before I come into a room, they slip into disguise so I can't catch 'em. One day, I tell myself, I'm gonna be reeeeaaIll quiet and tiptoe down the stairs from the bedroom and sneak soooo carefully into the kitchen and catch Mizz Pickett standing over the stove in her alien body and face -- before she uses her powers to see me first. Cooking raccoons always weakens her powers.

But instead of trying to catch her this day, I keep standing at the window, practicing my snow-melting skills. Right now, I know, if I really go out there, the snow will freeze me, so I better just stay in here and daydream some more.

It seems the time came for the visits to child welfare whenever I was doing something I didn't want to be interrupted from, like daydreaming. That's the first thing. Next, I got to be on the watch that she's gonna try to be nice to me. But it don't never last, and that's why I rather she stay her regular way -- mean.

I'm at my spot, looking out the window, and I feel her there, standing behind me, all in her monster face and stuff, just waiting for me to turn around so she can practice putting on her human face. That's how monsters play. But I don't fall for that 'cause I know she's not nice. Besides, she's too old to play with kids. So I keep staring out the window, pretending I don't know she's there at the door.

Dwight is in the closet. He's mad at everybody 'cause he's gotta go with me on the visit to the social services office. That's where all the white people are. Except the one they call my caseworker, who's colored like me. There's another one I saw there, too. She was late I heard them say. Another time they said she was coming but she didn't. But I don't care. I only like to see the toys they got in the toy box and play with them for a little while.

Usually I have to go there by myself but today Dwight's coming, too, and I'm glad. It means I'm not the only one wearing the church clothes. It makes me feel special when I'm the only one wearing them on a weekday. I hate feeling special.

I can feel her behind me, opening her mouth, showing her big sharp teeth, and now I'm scared, but this time, I turn around real fast and she's changed human again. Standing there in the doorway, smiling that fake smile.

"Where is Dwight?" she says.

The closet door creaks slowly open and out steps Dwight, his red-green-and-yellow-plaid Sunday-school bow tie slightly crooked.

"What-choo doin' in dat dhere closet? Nigga! Get on out here so we can get ready ta go! Ya think we got all day?"

"No ma'am."

She grabs him by the shoulder and jerks at the bow tie to straighten it.

Then she turns back to me with that same put-on smile as I hop to the floor in panic. Panic that she will yell at me next. But instead of yelling, she talks in a making-fun, teasing way, telling Dwight, "Twonny has ta see his momma today." Barely concealing her disapproval of the visit, her mouth twists as she talks and she pushes up her glasses from slipping down her nose, like she's mad at the glasses that she has to take me downtown in the rain.

Her words stick in my ears and my mind...

Finding Fish. Copyright © by Antwone Fisher. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Antwone Fisher is the author of the New York Times bestseller Finding Fish. He is also the screenwriter of the film Antwone Fisher, based on his life and directed by Academy Award winner Denzel Washington. Fisher lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two daughters.

Mim Eichler Rivas is the author of the acclaimed Beautiful Jim Key, as well as the coauthor of more than eighteen books, including The Pursuit of Happyness and Finding Fish with Antwone Fisher.

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Finding Fish 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 92 reviews.
kstatuto More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was as good as A child Called It. Not to take away from this author brilliant work, he had me captured from begining to end. I highly recommnend this book for anybody that saw the movie.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This story, unlike the film, covers the life of a boy between both narrative by the author, and the writings of social workers who documented his life view reports and observations from visits with his foster parent and foster siblings. It gives an up close and personal look into life on the other side of childhood, the Unwanted Child.I highly recommend this book to anyone. If you like Pursuit of Happiness, you'll love Finding Fish!
RT223 More than 1 year ago
Finding Fish by Antwone Quenton Fisher is a memoir of Antwone¿s life. It starts with the story of his family a few months before his birth; as the author believed his families story was his story; even though he did not meet them until much later in his life. Antwone¿s father was shot two months before his birth, and his mother was in jail and unable to care for him. So, he was placed into foster care. The foster family Antwone was placed into was abusive, both physically and verbally; and ¿Mizz Picket¿, his foster mother, did a good job of keeping child welfare from finding out. Much of the story is about his rough beginning in Cleveland, as Antwone recalls his first seventeen years of life with the Pickets. One day, Mizz Picket was furious, and she kicked him out on the street. He was homeless, and it seemed as if his life would go nowhere. That was until Antwone chose to join the United States Navy. This was a major turning point in the story as Antwone, or as many call him, ¿Fish¿, finally gains confidence in himself and begins to enjoy life. After eleven years of service, he retires from the navy and moves to Los Angeles. Fish discovers his true passion in life, writing, and he also finds a love he had been searching for his whole life. This is a story about a young boy with rough beginnings turning his life into something great. Some prevalent themes in this book are determination, perseverance, confidence and hope. Fish had a hard life, but instead of giving up, he persevered through the situation and eventually gained the confidence he had always wanted. He was determined to make something of his life, and he did. Some things I liked about the book were the use of poems between some chapters, and the author¿s inclusion of not just his own memories, but pieces from his child welfare file and his families story. The only things I disliked about the book were a few graphic sections, as well as the morbid theme through most of the book. Overall, this was an interesting and inspiring story. I highly recommend it because of its inspiring message and the everyday lessons within. I almost read the entire book in one sitting, it was hard to put down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book Finding Fish written by Antwone Fisher is about a boy named Antwone who was born into an institution. He had gone in and out of several different foster homes throughout his life starting at the age two. When he was about four he was put into a foster home where he endured physical and emotional abuse with no positive reinforcement. He had to deal with that lifestyle until the age of sixteen when he was removed and at the age of eighteen Antwone enlisted in the United States Navy. The book in general was amazing; I usually don't enjoy reading but this book I did truly take a joy in reading and never wanted to put it down. Finding Fish is a very inspirational and emotional book, which I would recommend to mainly teens and adults looking for a serious heart touching story. What I liked about the book was that even though the book as a whole was gloomy and depressing the authors voice made it hopeful and sounded as if something good would happen eventually giving the reader optimism and making me want to find out what was going to happen. The author did a nice job of informing us all about his life even with the smallest details which made a difference when reading. Antwone Fisher too did a terrific job of describing things allowing me to have a perfect image in my head of what was happening. That always helps when reading a book. What I didn't like about the book was how it would jump parts. Starting with Antowne speaking, then go to a journal entry written by one of his caseworkers. That made it hard to follow along and confused me on to who was speaking when. I also disliked how there were no chapters and just acts, it made it very hard to stop and when you would pick up from where you last left off you would forget where you were and what was happening when you would begin to read. I would give Finding Fish four stars out of five and is a book that is truthfully worth reading. Anyone who has gone through fostering would really connect to this inspiring story of a young man who felt unwanted in the world and needed to find where he belonged.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Heartbreaking, memorizing, and inspiring. This book was more then just the typical novel, memoir, etc. It was amazing. Antwone Fisher captures the most intense and gripping moments of his life. Filled with moments of despair, triumph, joy, Antwone lets the world now that no matter what happens you can always rise above the circumstances.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I don't read many books, but this one captivated me from the first page and I constantly found myself to where I couldn't put it down. Fantastic book, and is a must read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The greatest autobiography ever written. This story moves the soul.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This Book is absolutely wonderful! I love the movie too! 'Finding Fish' is a spectacular book and should be read by everyone! It will make you appreciate life and make you cry at the same time!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful display of survival by a strong willed African American.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It¿s both sad and beautiful. You¿re not going to get through this book without shedding at least one tear, or desiring to hunt down Mr. and Mizz Pickett to admonish them for the damage they had done not only in the life of Antwone but also in the lives of their other foster children Dwight and Flo. And then, after reading Finding Fish, you¿re going to want to find Antwone, wrap your arms around him and say ¿Well done.¿ This book is truly amazing! It is a story about a young man reared in a system specifically designed for failure yet, because of God¿s grace, mercy and the love of others who saw his potential, did not grow up to be what we would call ¿a statistic¿. Antwone Fisher is a star in my book. His story is one I think all teenagers should read to give them hope and to help them to appreciate the meaning of ¿family¿. If you haven¿t seen the movie, don¿t expect it to capture the real essence of Fish¿s story because, in my opinion, it doesn¿t. However, I am in no way taking away from Denzel Washington¿s depiction. I enjoyed every part of the movie. It¿s just that the book says so much more. Then again, books have no limits. All I can say is: Thanks Fish for sharing your story. (I plan to use this book as a springboard to help the youth of today to find themselves and their place in this world when they feel they were dealt a ¿bad hand¿ in life.)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book it was heart wrenching it made me cry i also saw the movie book was better but they both had me look at life in a different way and put it in perspective
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its sad at parts but always gets better. It will change your life
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yeah of corse i can
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Skypaw: "Mom, Dad im going to be the very best apprentis in the whole woods!" She meowed proudly................Rosebud: "i am very proud of you my little one" she purred loudly to show her plesher...............Stormfly: "i could not be more proud of you, Skypaw"................Skypaw: "thank you mom and Dad" she nodded respectfuly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book. It was well written and interesting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I laughed ,cried and redefined what life is really all about.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The human spirit can overcome some of the worst situations imaginable -- if the right people are around to help. Finding Fish is a well-written story that captures the heart. This is a must read for people who are involved with care, coaching, teaching, and/or parenting of kids who are in the chid welfare system.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was suggested reading by a guest speaker to our school system. Curious, I ordered it and was very satisfied with it. Also saw the movie which kept fairly true to the book. Will be a definite re-read.
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