Ever since Ellie wore a whale swimsuit and made a big splash at her fifth birthday party, she’s been bullied about her weight. To cope, she tries to live by the Fat Girl Rules — like “no making waves,” “avoid eating in public,” and “don’t move so fast that your body jiggles.” She’s found her safe space — her swimming pool — where she feels weightless in a fat-obsessed world. In the pool, she starfishes. Stretches out. Takes up all the room she wants, instead of living by the fat girl rules society taught her. The pool is also where she can get away from her pushy mom, who thinks criticizing Ellie’s weight will motivate her to diet. Fortunately, Ellie has allies in her dad, her therapist, and her new neighbor, Catalina, who love Ellie for who she is. With this support buoying her, Ellie might finally be able to cast aside the Fat Girl Rules and starfish in real life — by unapologetically being her own fabulous self.

How to get your hands on a copy of Starfish


What people are saying about Starfish:

A starred review from Kirkus Reviews

A starred review from School Library Journal

A starred review from Booklist

A starred review from Publishers Weekly

A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection

Spring 2021 Kids’ Indie Next Great Reads

Endorsements from the back cover

“Readers will rejoice as Ellie gains the strength to confront bullies with intelligence and honesty, and refuses to allow other people’s cruelty to shape her life.” —Padma Venkatraman, award-winning author of The Bridge Home

“This is a big, beautiful book about a big, beautiful girl … An honest, heartbreaking, hilarious novel in verse from a debut author with a delicious voice.” —Sonya Sones, award-winning author of What My Mother Doesn’t Know

“For a reader of any age, it is a revelation to feel seen in the book you’re reading. For middle grade readers, it can be life-changing. Starfish will be this life-changing book for so many kids and teens, and it will be an eye-opening book for many more. Lisa Fipps’ spot-on verse gives Ellie a wrenchingly real voice that sings with humor, pain, and hope. Prepare yourself: once you read this book, your heart will never be the same.” —K.A. Holt, award-winning author of many middle grade novels-in-verse including House Arrest

What bloggers and reviewers are saying

“This amazing and powerful story by debut author Lisa Fipps is helping to usher in a body positivity movement in youth literature.” Laura Frantz, Collection Development Librarian, Somerset County Library System of New Jersey 

@thebookmommy on Instagram: “… [O]ne of the most powerful novels in verse I have ever read: moving beyond measure, equal parts devastating and uplifting, and jaw-droppingly gorgeous. It will be eye-opening for many, as it was for me, and life-saving for others. My daughter loved it as much as I did. … Lisa Fipps’ … raw, intimate free verse packs a punch on every page, even as it seamlessly weaves together a larger story. In addition to kids, EVERY PARENT (and anyone who works with kids) should read this. Just incredible.” 3.1.21

What people on Goodreads are saying

“I read this … in a single sitting and finished with tears pouring down my cheeks. This book is blunt and beautiful.”

“Fipps has created a haunting story about the power of words and the strength of friendship. Starfish is necessary and heartbreaking and perfect.”

“I wish that this book had been around when I was in middle school. A book about body positivity is unfortunately few and far between.”

“Fipps will break your heart with her real and raw narrative, but the genuine heartfelt message … will help put the pieces back together and encourage readers to find support and realize that everyone, regardless of size, is worthy of love and respect.”

“What an important and life-saving book, beautifully written and impossible to put down. The emotions are so raw and real. Hand this to any child who is bullied for the way he or she looks, particularly for being overweight.”

“So many crucial topics were touched on in this book, and they were all dealt with in a realistic way. … Everyone should read this book; it’s empowering, hopeful, funny, and something truly needed in today’s world.”