"A weird, sardonic delight with the shape of an allegory and the heart of a joyful song." --Brenna Yovanoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Replacement
In this brilliantly written tragicomedy from acclaimed Morris finalist Len Vlahos comes a story about a girl whose dying father does the unthinkable--puts his life up for auction online.
When fifteen-year-old Jackie discovers that her father has been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor, her whole world starts to crumble. She can't imagine how she'll live without him.
Then, in a desperate act to secure his family's future, Jackie's father does the unthinkable--he puts his life up for auction on eBay. Jackie can do nothing but watch and wait as an odd assortment of bidders, some with nefarious intentions, drive the price up higher. The fate of her entire family hangs in the balance.
But no one can predict how the auction will finally end, or any of the very public fallout that ensues. Life as Jackie knows it is about to change forever . . .
"Surprising, original, political, and deeply affecting . . . It is one of those rare works of art that keeps you guessing up to the very last page." --Leila Sales, author of This Song Will Save Your Life
"It will tear you apart, and yet it's an absolute joy." --Adi Alsaid, author of Let's Get Lost and Never, Always, Sometimes
About the Author
Len Vlahos dropped out of NYU film school in the mid '80s to play guitar and write songs for Woofing Cookies, a punk-pop four piece that toured up and down the East Coast, and had two singles and one full-length LP on Midnight Records. After the band broke up, he followed his other passion, books. He is the author of The Scar Boys, a William C. Morris Award finalist and a #1 Indie Next pick, and Scar Girl, the book's sequel. Len lives in Denver with his wife and two young sons, where he owns the Tattered Cover Book Store.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I’ll give it to you upfront: I did not like “Life in a Fishbowl.” I did appreciate the writing and the use of some unique points-of-view. There were a lot of voices in the book, with many being in the same chapter. It became confusing at points, but the voices were distinct and well-written. I found the parts written about the thoughts of the tumor itself to be unique and engaging. In fact, those were the only sections that genuinely made me feel like I was reading a book about cancer that handled the subject well. The message of how intrusive reality television can be was a good one, but also over-extended the plot. A few less points-of-view in the tv aspect would have made it flow much better. One of my biggest pet peeves is the use of an animal for emotional blackmail. There is an animal death, and it was part of an unnecessary subplot that crowded the tv aspect that I mentioned up above. I feel like a strong plot can evoke emotion without needing to add in something extra. The writing is good, but the rest of “Life in a Fishbowl” was disappointing. It had so much potential. I recommend giving this one a pass. This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.
Jared Stone is diagnosed with an non-operable brain tumor. What can he do to insure the livelihood of his family, wife and 2 daughters? Without any discussion with his family, he decides to sell his life on eBay. When his listing is taken down, as he had broken rules about what can be listed, he is approached by one of the bidders, a television executive. The other bidders are upset, as well as Jared's family, when a television crew show up to start a reality series about his last days alive. His daughter, Jackie, does not want the tv crew there and starts her own behind the scenes webseries. This webseries shows the exagerations that the show is making, and does not make the executive or his boss very happy. When I read the blurb about this book, I thought that it would be more centered on Jackie, and what she does to deal with her father's diagnoses and death. Instead, I get a book that is hard to follow because of all the characters that come in and out of this book. The reality show doesn't even start around 100 pages in the book. It was very hard to read, or stay interested in reading, for this reason. I did, however, finish the book. I thought that the ending was forced, but I also know that cancer can have a person feeling fine one day and gone the next. Thank you Bloomsbury Children's Books and NetGalley for the digital ARC of this book, which made this honest review possible.
I really don’t know what to think about this novel. I guess I was anticipating a more emotional read than what I received, it was a letdown by the time I finished reading it. I thought, here was this father who had died and I really didn’t think anyone grieved for him. When he was diagnosed with cancer, he immediately thought of his family. He was concerned for their well-being, would they be financially set after his death? He wanted to guarantee their welfare so he took matters into his own hands. In the end, his family was rewarded but the weeks with them, leading up to his death were chaos. Was that really worth it? Was the chaos worth the money? There were a few times when I thought things might turn around and times were some emotions were revealed but I felt they never presented themselves fully. I was looking for fond and warm moments where the family could remember those last weeks with their father, not the drama that went on when the cameras were rolling. This novel didn’t have heart that I was looking for. This novel did have all the drama of a reality show, it had all the characters, it had the controversy and the disputes that occur off camera and on camera. It had excitement and deception, friendships and hostility. The novel had a cancer which went by the name Gilo. Gilo searched out memories inside Jared and it shared them with me, the reader, as I read. These personal stories of Jared’s were then destroyed never to be seen again, for Gilo was on a mission to destroy Jared for he was incurable. I am glad that I read this novel for it was one of those novels that I have been craving to read for a while. The cover was amazing and the synopsis sounded like a book that I would have loved, sometimes though you never know what is inside.
terminal cancer patient SELLING his life to the highest bidder? And that bidder is a television network that intends to make a reality TV show about his death? SIGN ME UP. When I heard about this books from the lovely people at Bloomsbury, I knew that I had to have it. And now, about half an hour after I finished, I'm... Befuddled? A mix of emotions I can't decipher? And I can't tell if I'm in love with this book, or just wish it was more. Jared Stone was a normal man. A part time graphic designer and part life longish father two two teenage daughter, his life was perfectly normal. Until, that is, he finds out about the high grade multiform glioblastoma growing in his brain that has given him only three months left to live. And so, to ensure that his family will be well provided for without him there, he puts up his life for sale on eBay which gains the attention of a cyber-savvy nun, a billionaire looking for anything that will give him a high, people trying to help and a TV network. Soon, the Stone household is infested with cameras, crew, producers, directors and the eyes of millions of Americans all of whom are trying to watch a man fade from all that he is into nothing. Told in multiple points of view - Jared Stone, Sherman Kingsborough (the billionaire), Sister Benedict, Ethan Overbee (the producer) Deirdre, Jackie and Megan Stone and the tumour, Life in a Fishbowl is one roller coaster that will leave you a blubbering bundle of emotions. While the book started off rather lightly, switching between viewpoints so fast I could barely keep up or feel anything for the characters, I soon got used to it, and the book was an intense portrayal of loss in the eye of the camera. One of the things I REALLY LOVED was that Jared's TUMOUR had its own viewpoint that was actually quite unique and interesting. The only part of the book I didn't understand was the lack of focus on the emotional ending. All we really heard about the Stone family's decisions was that they cried. And then they cried some more, but there was NOTHING else, and I wish there had been. I also sort of felt bad for the crew and the network? I've seen the show UnReal and I realise that what they were trying to do makes for good TV, but the family did sign a contract and well, I guess that since there was SO MUCH going on REBELLING against the network just didn’t seem really realistic. After all, CONTRACTS are BINDING? All in all, it was a very unique book that was emotion filled that is DEFINITELY worth a read. 4 stars.