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4.4 36
by Sarah Mlynowski

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Smart, witty and a little bit bitchy, Fishbowl lets you press your face against the glass, see into the lives of three unique roommates -- and laugh your head off.

Allison can't wait for Jodine and Emma to move in to her apartment -- until she realizes having roommates means living in a fishbowl: You are never alone. When one small, slightly


Smart, witty and a little bit bitchy, Fishbowl lets you press your face against the glass, see into the lives of three unique roommates -- and laugh your head off.

Allison can't wait for Jodine and Emma to move in to her apartment -- until she realizes having roommates means living in a fishbowl: You are never alone. When one small, slightly accidental fire leads to one big repair bill, all efforts to avoid each other are finally abandoned: They've got to raise money . . . fast ("Insurance? You mean you have to pay for that?"). This means joining forces. Bonding? Well, at least they're talking to each other!

Amazingly, they agree on a plan: shamelessly exploit their combined expertise on the male species for hard cash.

Tactics: sell tickets to their swanky soirTes and How to Pick Up Women seminars . . . But their grand scheme sweeps away any last shreds of privacy with startling consequences. Now that they're forced to take a long, hard look at themselves, Allie, Jodine and Emma's lives -- and budding friendship -- are about to change, in ways they never imagined.

About the author: Twenty-something Sarah Mlynowski lives and works in both Toronto and New York. Her first novel, Milkrun, is being published in over ten languages. Sarah has had six roommates, most of whom claim to have enjoyed living with her.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Allie is a perky 22-year old virgin with a hopeless crush. Emma is a free-spirited fashion editor's assistant who parties with a vengeance. Jodine is a responsible law student who makes efficiency an art form. The question is: can this odd trio can live together in a Toronto apartment without driving one another crazy? The answer is probably not, but what they can do is build friendships none of them ever anticipated. Mlynowski, following last year's Milkrun, delivers another fun piece of fluff about post-college 20-somethings trying to figure it all out as they struggle with fledgling careers, the opposite sex and financial woes. Considerable woes, in fact. Somehow, the new roommates must devise a plan to replace their kitchen, which has burned to a crisp. Each character takes her turn telling the story in alternating chapters, and the reader never mistakes one voice for another. When Allie is asked if she could be pregnant after a bout of nausea, she thinks, "Maybe it is morning sickness and I'm carrying Jesus II." Jodine considers her roommates "a munchkin and a truck driver." While making a list of past sexual partners, Emma asks her roomies, "Can I have another piece of paper?" A fourth narrator, in omniscient third-person, is not always as funny as intended, but reminds the reader of important plot points ("Do you remember the effect alcohol has on her when she gets drunk? She's like a librarian in a porno movie.") Mlynowski delivers a solid if formulaic roommate caper. (Oct.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

Red Dress Ink
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.13(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.94(d)

Read an Excerpt



Shut. Up.


Shut. Up. Pause.


Shut! Up! I'm trying to mind my own business while I stir my instant coffee (my brewer has gone back to Vancouver with its owner, one of my former roommates. My other college roommate, most furniture, all forms of cutlery and the living-room TV have also deserted me for the rainy city of Vancouver), but this teeth-scratching eeeeeeeeeeeeep keeps interrupting me. It's like when you bite your lip by accident and it gets all puffy, and because it's puffy, you keep biting it—you know?


Please, please, please stop.

Three minutes and ten seconds later: eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.

Time to detonate the smoke detector. I've lived in this apartment for over two years and in all that time, not once have the batteries run out. But isn't that always the case? They had to wait for Rebecca and Melissa to move out before they decided to kick the bucket. My ex-roommates are each at least half a foot taller than my five-foot frame (I prefer to be called petite, not short, and none of that vertically challenged crap, thank you very much) and could have reached it by standing on a stool without the aid of a phone book. Both could have easily, without breaking a glow, popped out the offending batteries, making the eeeeeeeeeeeeep go away. Go figure.

The beeping offends my ears yet again, and I examine my right thumb for a piece of stray nail to chew on. Gross? Yes. A bad habit I picked up from my mom.

Maybe this eeeeeeeeeeeeeping is a sign. A sign for me to get dressed, walk to the nearest Starbucks and order a cappuccino before going to work. Maybe while I'm there I will meet someone capable of stopping this eeeeeeeeeeeeeping. Maybe I will make new friends. I need new friends. Now that my former roomies have left town, I have only one friend left in Toronto, Clint, but secretly, I'm a little in love with Clint, so I don't think he counts. I've tried not to be in love with him, because he's not in love with me. I realized this last year (me loving him and him not loving me). I had a little too much Mike's Hard Lemonade (Canadian girl beer) and said, "I love you, Clint." And he got as pale as loose-leaf paper and said, "Thank you."

Thank you? What is thank you? Thank you for making me a turkey sandwich, Allie, maybe. Thank you for taping TWIB (that's This Week in Baseball for all those not in love with Blue Jays–obsessed men) while I was out sleeping with the slut from my economics class. Worst-case scenario, obviously, but still applicable. But thank you for the "I love you"? What does that mean? He started stammering all boylike that he had to go, he had an early class (as if he ever went to class), and I realized what a mistake, what a huge mistake I had just made, and I said, "As a friend, I mean. I love you as a friend. You're my best friend."

So technically I don't know for sure he doesn't love me. It's certainly possible that he believed me about me not loving him that way. And if he doesn't think I'm in love with him, he probably doesn't want to risk potential embarrassment and disappointment by admitting his true feelings for me. He's probably afraid of making the first move, because of his fear of rejection. Not that he's ever been afraid of being rejected by other girls.

But I'm different from other girls. I am. Clint says no one appreciates him the way I do.

So you see, I'm having a bit of a current living-in-Toronto friend drought. Obviously, I'll have two built-in friends when my two new roomies arrive in a couple weeks, but who should I talk to until then? I wish I had a dog. I've always wanted a dog. A dog that will sleep on my pillow. A dog that I can take for walks and feed snacks and teach to roll over and walk on two legs and do other fun tricks, and maybe one day I can present him on David Letterman's Stupid Pet Tricks. But shouldn't I ask my new roomies if I want to get a dog? In case they're allergic? Is it the ethical thing to do? Could I hide the dog? It could sleep in my room. I have the biggest one.

But if I can call them to ask them this, that means I have someone to talk to. And if I have someone to talk to, then I really don't need a dog, now do I?


Maybe by the time I get back from coffee and work the eeeeeeeeeeeeeping will have stopped. Sometimes you wish for something and it actually does happen. Really. Like in fourth grade. I went to sleep crying because in the morning I had to take the Monday multiplication test and I was stuck on table nine. For five weeks, Mrs. Tupper (who probably never used Bounce, because her skirt always stuck to the inside of her thighs) had been making me stand up in front of the class and answer, "Allison, what is nine times two?" And when I answered eighteen, she'd ask, "What is nine times five?" She'd ask me six questions in all, assuring me that if I passed the test, I could move on to the tenth table, but if I answered even one wrong, I'd have to repeat table nine again the next Monday.

Anyway, for five weeks I went to bed crying because even though nine times ten and nine times eleven were no-brainers ("Multiplication isn't your foe, times it by ten and add an 0. Don't let math give you trouble, times it by eleven and you're seeing double!"— Mom made those up for me), I would either forget nine times eight (seventy-two!) or nine times nine (eighty-one!), and for some inexplicable reason answered sixty-five to both. Anyway, I had been on the ninth table for five weeks now, and the test was in the morning. I knew that one (maybe two) more days of practice would really be helpful, and then poof, the next morning there was a flood. There's never been a flood in my part of the city in its entire history. How weird was that? Needless to say, the schools were closed, since no one could get to them unless they had a boat or Jet Ski. Totally bizarre. And when I took the test (on Tuesday) I passed.

See? It happens.


I brush my teeth, throw on jean shorts, a tank top and sandals. I grab my purse and head out the door.

Mission not accomplished. Work—good. Well, not good as in fulfilling good. How can telemarketing be fulfilling? Although, I raise money for the Ontario University Alumni Fund so it's actually telefundraising, which isn't as immoral or annoying as telemarketing. And I did raise over five hundred bucks today, which is pretty good. Anyway. Cappuccino—also good. Meeting taller friends so they can fix the eeeeeeeeeeeep—bad.

But what's this? Silence? I look up at the offender on the wall in the living room next to the kitchen's entranceway. Has the sour-milk-sipping noise come to an end?

No sound except passing traffic. I leave the windows open because it is a breath-hampering, fluid-draining ninety-seven degrees outside. And I can't afford an air conditioner. I once had a fan, but like everything else that gave me joy, it is now in Vancouver.

Quiet. See? I told you it could happen. Sometimes when you wish for something hard enough—



Hmm. There's a pharmacy next door to Starbucks. Why didn't I think to buy batteries? Wouldn't that have made more sense than to assume that the obviously dying batteries would self-heal while I was getting caffeinated?

I roll the computer chair from my bedroom into the living room and place it beneath the smoke detector. This is a bad plan. A very bad plan. My computer chair is one of those $15.99 You-Put-It-Together! chairs whose wheels are about as sturdy as legs in high heels after three glasses of zinfandel. Unfortunately, my other chairs, which are metal, sturdier, more appropriate for this situation (and which used to be arranged around a glass kitchen table which had to be placed beside the kitchen instead of inside it due to space limitations) are gone. With the glass table. In Vancouver.

I pump the computer chair as high as it can go. And now, the moment of suspense. It's just me, an eeeeeeeeeeeeeping smoke alarm, and a rolling computer chair in a couchless, coffeemaker-free apartment.

Steady. Stea-dy. Lift right arm to smoke detector. Lift left hand to mouth. Insert pinky nail between lips. Excellent nail overgrowth. Mmm. Missions accomplished. Superfluous nail piece is freely rolling around my tongue. And both hands are placed squarely on the smoke detector.

Now what?

Press button?

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEPPPPPPP. Whoops. Remove batteries? Why can't I remove batteries? Chair! Swerving! Seconds from head injury! Need both hands to balance! Steady! Stea-dy.


Stop. That. Now. Remove smoke detector? Crunch. Smoke detector removed. Three-minute wait. Beeping stopped.


I think I broke it. I guess I should put it back on the wall. I can't just leave it on the table. What table? (Do milk crates covered in a tablecloth count as a table?) Okay, smoke detector is now back on ceiling.

I carefully crouch into a sitting position and insert another finger into my mouth. I wait three minutes.

No eeeeeeeeeeeeep. Not even one tiny eee.

Now, isn't that better?


August 27—Agenda:

  1. Call car to bring me to airport.
  2. Call mother to remind her to pick me up at airport.
  3. Purge fridge of remaining food.
  4. Sweep.
  5. Throw out garbage.
  6. Close windows.
  7. Return apartment key to superintendent.
  8. Save car receipt to airport (firm has agreed to reimburse).
  9. Verify frequent-flyer points credited to account.
  10. Bring suits to dry cleaner.
  11. Call Happy Movers to confirm truck rental for move to new apartment.
"Hello," the annoying businessman sitting in the window seat beside me says as he removes his suit jacket. "How are you doing on this fine day?"

Terrific. Shouldn't the fact that I'm in the middle of reviewing something be a sign that I'm not interested in pursuing a conversation? "Fine, thanks."

He squashes his arm on the seat rest. "I'm doing well, too."

I pull out the New York Times. People are usually less likely to intrude on one's personal time when one appears to be engaged, especially if the engagement happens to be reading the Times. It's not a comic book, or worse, a fashion magazine. It spells serious all over it.

"What are you reading, little lady?"

It takes me another moment to get over the traumatizing shock of being called a little lady. Is he blind? "The paper," I answer in yet another dismissive attempt. Maybe now he will set sail the notion of small talk? Float away, annoying man! Float away!

"So what do you do?"

"I'm a student." Now vanish. Enough.

"Oh, that's nice," he says in a pat-me-on-the-head voice. Notice he does not think to ask the obvious question, What are you studying? Not that I care. I do not wish to engage in a conversation with this man. I'm not sure why people believe being seated next to someone implies an ensuing conversation.

He puffs himself up like a blown-up life jacket. "I run an international appliance sales force. It's one of the largest in the world."

I don't remember asking, but now that you've opened the field up for discussion, let me ask, is that why you're sitting in 23D in the economy section, next to me? Because you're so rich and powerful? "That's nice," I say instead. It's not that I'm a coward; why should I be rude?

I slip my Discman headphones out of my carry-on and over my ears. Unfortunately, my CD player is broken. I realized this while waiting to board. But the important thing is, he doesn't realize this.

Maybe if I nod my head and shake it side to side as if I'm in the swing, I'll be able to pull it off.

Forty-five minutes until landing.

My mother had better be on time to pick me up. In her last attempt to pick me up at the Toronto airport, when I flew back from a law conference in Calgary, she was fifty-five minutes late. Apparently she was under the false impression that my arrival time was at five, despite the photocopied version of my itinerary taped prominently to the refrigerator, which clearly stated that my flight was landing at four. When she drove up at four-fifty-five, she was congratulating herself for arriving five minutes early. My primary question, ignoring the more obvious why-didn't-she-pay-attention-to-the-time-on-the-fridge query, was why didn't she call the airport to verify the arrival time? Why, why, why, would one drive to the airport, a forty-five-minute trek in Toronto, without first confirming the accurate arrival time? The possibility of my flight being delayed was more than likely. It was December; a snowstorm was practically guaranteed. It made no sense.

This time, I specifically instructed her to call the airport. I even gave her the number. I should have insisted, however, on taking a cab. Sigh. Her inability to make it here for the assigned time is now beyond my control.

Dear, sweet Mom. In the last year, at least four times that I can remember, she's left her keys in the car while it was running and had to call my father to bring her the spare. Not that my dad is much better. Once when my mom—"But it slammed shut so fast! Before I could catch it!"—locked herself out, smack in the middle of downtown Queen Street, my dad trekked all the way to meet her, only to realize he'd left the spare keys back at the house, on the—"But I could have sworn I'd put them in my pocket"— kitchen table. They called me to rescue them. And when I got there, after two hours of subway-hell, they were having a giggly submarine picnic lunch on the hood of the car. How frustrating is that? Fine, I admit they can be a tiny bit adorable. They thought it was the funniest thing that had ever happened to them.

One week of living with my parents. Seven days. One hundred and sixty-eight hours. That's all I have left. Seven days of explaining to my mother how to work that "intercourse machine" so that she can go "to the line" ("Internet, Mom. Online, Mom"). Seven days of picking up my father's seemingly strategically discarded socks on the kitchen floor. Why would one take off his socks in the kitchen? There is no carpet, just cold tiles.

They will be fine without me around to take care of them, won't they?

I should get a cell phone to make sure I can be reached at all times.

Meet the Author

Sarah was born in Montreal, Canada, in 1977. After graduating with an honors degree in English literature from McGill University, she moved to Toronto to work for a romance publisher. While she never met Fabio, she used her experiences to fuel her first novel Milkrun. After publishing her second novel, Fishbowl, Sarah moved to New York City to write full-time. Since then, Sarah has written As Seen on TV for Red Dress Ink and Bras & Broomsticks, her first teen novel, for Random House. She has been featured in the short story collections, American Girls About Town and Sixteen: Stories About That Sweet and Bitter Birthday. Sarah also coedited the USA TODAY bestselling chick-lit anthology Girls' Night In. Monkey Business is Sarah Mlynowski's fourth novel for Red Dress Ink. She'd love to hear from you—say hello at sarahmlynowski.com.

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Fishbowl 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 36 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book, it was such a fun read, takes you away from everyday and makes you laugh.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a great book, and i would recomend it to anyone who loves to read! This book will blow you away. :) teehee
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm a college student living with two roommates and we've passed this book around. It's extremely humorous because it's extremely realistic. The girls reminded us so much of ourselves...making us feel somewhat normal. With the stress of guys, money, lies and secrets all wrapped up in one apartment, this book is funny because you're just happy you're not rolled up in the drama this time around. This book is a must read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This story was fantastic. It made me laugh out loud and was a very enjoyable read. I could hardly put it down. After my own experience living with 5 girls its amusing to read a stories that actually relates to what living with roomates is really like. Its about time someone put the real truth out there. GREAT BOOK!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was in the book store killing time before I had to pick up my daughter from preschool. I saw this book on the shelf and just picked it up to see what it was about. The back didn't really make the book sound all that interesting but I decided to read the beginning of the book anyway. I had to kill time anyway right? And already I'm laughing because I've done what Allie has done and learn the hard way that you don't remove the batteries from the smoke detector without a fresh set of batteries available. And also what Jodine has done when she puts on her headphones because the guy sitting next to her is just not getting the point, that you don't want to talk! Last there's Emma, and who I want to know hasn't that one boyfriend that tries to control you and tell you what to do and the only reason you put up with his idiocy is because he has one redeeming quality... he is incredible in bed. Before I knew it I was already on chapter five and laughing like an idiot in the bookstore. I had to get this book or risk continuing to look the idiot. I took it home and finished the book in one day. This has to be one of the most funniest books I've read in a long time. I had to spit my drink back into my cup at one point because I would have had a choking fit if I didn't. I also had to contain my laughter to a minimum because I read most of the book in late night, when my husband and daughter was asleep but that just made the situation even funnier. I know you must be saying, "Alright I get it, the book was funny. How many times must you say that?" How about once more, "This book is so funny go buy it if you need a break from ordinary life or you just want to reminisce about your single days." I haven't read her other novel Milkrun but I think I must.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Loved this book! Sarah Mylnowski gives these characters such depth which makes them intriguing and entertaining. The chapters are separated by the character's point of view which you would think would be confusing but really isn't. It was just a great portrayal of 3 different girls living in the city.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I first read As Seen on TV by Mlynowski and liked it so much I picked up her other two...I just put down Fishbowl and I absolutely loved it! The way she splits the chapters up into the different girls is great and the book was hilarious and I loved getting to know each othe the girls individually.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was my first book to read by Mlynowski but now i just cant wait to read another it was funny, true and interesting i'm reading it for the 2nd time
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! I couldn't put it down. It was so realistic and very easy to relate to.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is absolutely hilarious, leaving me laughing for hours and making my roommates think that I actually need depressants!!!hahaha...I love this book and she is absoutely the funniest, wittiest and most awes (Allie...^_^)writer ever!! I wish she would write more, man!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just finished this book last night... It was a super fast read, and was so entertaining and funny!! The 3 girls go through so much in 6 months, many ups and downs. I would absolutly recommend this book, you'll laugh out loud!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
i loved this book..i cant wait to read other of her books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Fishbowl was the best book I've read in a while. With three completely different characters, you're bound to find a little of yourself somewhere. A funny, yet realistic look at life, taking you through the trials and mistakes in life from 3 girls just trying to make through today.
Guest More than 1 year ago
These girls go through so many struggles and end up getting around them all. This book has so many great twists. This book is long but still a great beach read because you will get through it in no time. I couldnt put it down
Guest More than 1 year ago
Fishbowl has brought me back to the world of reading. Sarah Mlynowski has created a book in which every woman can find a piece of herself.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book was funny i loved it
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the best book i read in a long time i dont see how it only could've gotten a 4 star rating it was so funny and typical how the girls were so different yet lived under the same roof.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book. I just got finished reading a couple of minutes ago, and I started the book early this morning. I just couldn't seem to put the book down!! This is definately a must read for teens...it makes you realize that life itself doesn't always have to be a complete disaster, things always work the way they are suppose to!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Think your life is kind of a disaster? This book allows you to see that your not the only one trying to get things in order. Fishbowl is a funny and enjoyable book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I liked the book, but i enjoyed milkrun more, but i still think theyre great, im just comparing it to milkrun.. but i like the fact that it was longer, and the same amount of witty-ness
Guest More than 1 year ago
I made myself read to page 150 hoping Fishbowl would get better. But, I finally gave up. My major frustrastion is that the plot never really picked up. By page 100, I should be at least looking forward to openning it after putting it down for a day. The characters seemed unoriginal and easily categorized -- the more conservative/together law school student, the innocent one who wants everyone to like her, and the outrageous and rebellious one. The idea of having each character narrate was a good one, but I didn't feel like the characters spoke differently. I felt like you could kind of tell it was all written by the same person. I did like her first book though!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Having just graduated from college this past May, I couldn't help picking up the book. While in college i lived with 2 other girls and couldnt stop comparing ourselves with Emma, Allie and Jodine. This book is a hoot to any girl who has had to deal with living with other women. Really easy to relate with - couldn't put it down. I recommended this book to my previous roommates - (only b/c we aren't living together anymore) so we can now laugh at all the "mishaps" we have gone through ourselves.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Fishbowl was a refreshing read. It was great to read a book that made it seem as though I was just chatting and hanging out with my friends. It gave me hope that my life is not as crazy as I think it is! I have recommended this book to all my friends and I am going to read Milkrun as soon as possible
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved the author's novel Milkrun and I was not dissappointed with this book. I enjoyed it and highly recommend you pick this one up
harstan More than 1 year ago
When you are young and near the bottom of the employment ladder, renting an apartment in downtown Toronto can be quite a slice of one¿s income. Individuals can go it alone if they do not mind skipping three meals a day. However, when three incomes split the rent and utilities suddenly the costs are not just bearable, there is some cash for other things. Allie, Emma, and Jodine become roommates with the immediate reactions being less expense and more clothing to share though Allie is a petite and much shorter than the other two. However, the trio quickly learns the downside of rooming as every move they make someone is watching and every trait they contain grates on someone¿s nerves. Each member residing inside this FISHBOWL begins to take a close look at her personality through the other two sets of eyes, as the shortcomings appear very undesirable. This is an engaging look at the lifestyle of twenty something-single females. The story line rotates first person narration between the three roommates so readers watch unfold the same event from an entirely different perspective as each character brings interpreting baggage to the observation. The problem with this novel is the prime traits often displayed by the trio leaves the reader indifferent as Allie turns from naïve cute to irritating just fell off the turnip truck, Jodine appreciates nothing especially her roommates and men, and Emma is a selfish user. Still, fans of chick lit will enjoy the insightful look at group dynamics done so well by Sarah Mlynowski. Harriet Klausner