“Starfish” by Lisa Fipps

The Plot: Ellie is a larger sized girl who endures chronic bullying about her weight from her peers at school, her family members, and strangers. The start of a new school year and her best friend moving away prove to be additional challenges for her. Luckily a new girl Ellie’s age has moved in next door and they start to become friends. Ellie also finds a trusted therapist who advocates for her to stay strong and face her bullies. Will this be enough for Ellie to change her life and how she sees herself?

My Take: This is a solid read for any young person looking for a book on the topic of body shaming. The plot is a little thin and the therapy plot device will feel very exhausted to seasoned readers. The bullying also comes so fast and thick that it seems overdone at times. Fipps answers this critique by stating that “every single mean thing people said or did to Ellie happened to me when I was a child.” It is perhaps that the instances of bullying are condensed into a period of several weeks that makes them feel unrealistic. These criticisms aside, Fipps does an excellent job conveying Ellie’s pain and shame to the reader. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a realistic middle grade read on empathy, body shaming, kindness, acceptance, etc.

One Interesting Note About The Author: According to the bio on her website, Lisa Fipps’s elbows ache when she sneezes! 🙂


  1. I have to admit I have problems with this book, too. While I deplore body shaming, I also feel that being overweight can be so physically unhealthy. I also know that the decision to lose weight is a personal one, that no one can make you do it until it is your choice (same with other things like smoking) and Ellie’s mother really got on my nerves about this. I just wish that something more positive was said about dealing with her weight so readers understand that would always be Ellie’s decision.


  2. Welcome to MMGM! I read Starfish back at the beginning of May and thought it was an excellent read—I think the short length keeps the book impactful without being exceedingly painful. Fipps really does an excellent job of showing the sheer volume of fat-shaming and hatred people face for no reason at all, and I was really pleased to see a positive and realistic depiction of therapy (which has been rare in the books I tend to pick up, at least). Thanks so much for the great review!


  3. I read this recently and thought it was terrific. As someone who has dealt with fat-shaming much of my life, I thought the depictions were realistic and so painful. The mother came around too fast to be believed, but other than that, I loved this book. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and welcome to MMGM.


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