Calling all Alfred Hitchcock fans: In her debut novel, British writer Lisa Thompson has brilliantly borrowed the director’s Rear Window plot, adapting it into a middle grade novel called The Goldfish Boy. Not only is this a riveting mystery filled with twists, turns and red herrings, it’s an emotionally complex tale centered on a 12-year-old narrator suffering from severe OCD.
Matthew Corbin feels safest in his home, where he constantly worries about germs and feels responsible for the death of his baby brother. He wears latex gloves and refuses to go to school, so his parents are in the process of lining up therapy. Meanwhile, Matthew watches his neighbors, taking notes about their comings and goings.
When a toddler goes missing, Matthew is the last to see him, and he knows what all the neighbors were doing at the time of the disappearance. He works diligently to solve the case, eventually joining forces with a lonely neighborhood girl, Melody, and a former friend, Jake, who’s been bullied so much that he’s become a bully himself.
Despite the severity of his problems, Matthew is an energetic, likable character whose adolescent voice and increasing self-awareness ring true. Rare is the book that manages to be an entertaining page-turner while also offering meaningful insight into a serious disorder. The Goldfish Boy manages to do both in a masterful way.