by Judith Hayn
Erlings, Fridrik. Fish in the Sky. Sommerville, MA: Candlewick Press, 2012.
Adolescents have the same yearnings and issues no matter where they live in the world. Josh Stephenson is 13, and his teen world in a coastal Iceland city seems to be falling apart. He lives with his single mom and yearns for his dad’s love although Dad has moved to the countryside with his pregnant girlfriend. Dad has just sent his son a stuffed falcon for his birthday, and the bizarre gift adds to Josh’s confusion. His flirtatious 17-year-old cousin Trudy comes to live with them, and his bedroom is her corridor to the unlockable bathroom. Josh’s obsession with a lovely classmate and his fear of showering after gym class lead him to fake an excuse for missing school; his adventures on his own add to the reader’s enjoyment and empathy. Josh wants, like most other teenagers, to be accepted and not feel like that fish in the sky.
This is an appealing coming-of-age story that speaks to every teenage guy, plus a wealth of information for the teen girl seeking to understand those mysterious creatures. A light-hearted and deft emotional touch makes the book an entertaining and enlightening read. Erlings is a multi-talented Icelandic artist whose novel, recently translated into English, delineates with humor and poignancy that difficult journey from adolescence to manhood—one of the best reads out there for those 12 and up.
Dr. Judith A. Hayn is an associate professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
This article is part of a series from the Special Interest Group Network on Adolescent Literature (SIGNAL).