THE TWO-THOUSAND-POUND GOLDFISH by Betsy Byars

THE TWO-THOUSAND-POUND GOLDFISH

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KIRKUS REVIEW

About the daydreams indulged in by Warren, who lives with his grandmother and his older (high-school) sister Weezie because his mother is a fugitive. Always an activist for peace, the environment, and other such causes, Warren's mother fell in with a Weathermen-type group and has been wanted by the FBI since Warren was five. He still longs for her and fantasizes about their reunion; but it soon becomes clear that, as Weezie well knows, their mother's commitments don't extend to her children. Meanwhile, Warren gluts out on horror films and fills his time, in class and elsewhere, inventing them. Much of the book, too, is filled with Warren's highly inventive scenarios-especially the one about Bubbles, the two-thousand-pound goldfish at large in the sewers, which Warren finishes triumphantly, but just a little regretfully, as the book ends. By then, his grandmother has died (an aunt will move in to take her place) and Warren has burst into tears at the cemetery--not in mourning for his grandmother, but because he finally realizes that his mother will not show up. From that point, it's just a few steps--talks with Weezie, who is bravely realistic but still hurt, and an unsatisfactory phone conversation with his mother (she has called, Weezie informs him, five times in three years)--until Warren, disabused of the more impeding daydream of his mother's return, decides to give up the others too. Still, he allows himself an out: the goldfish, hilariously flushed out to sea, has left a giant egg behind. And that's fine, because Warren's films are highly entertaining. The interlocking fantasies and Warren's liberation from them may be a little too neat, and his mother seems less an individual than a type Byars wants to comment on. But Weezie is a touching character, the grandmother a vivid caricature, and Warren's screenplays give him the starch he needs as a character too.
Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1982
ISBN: 0064408558
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Harper & Row
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1982




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