I must admit to some bias on this one: I’ve loved all Natalie’s books, and I think you should go read them right now. Simultaneously. Also, I received an e-copy ahead of release, in exchange for a review. But if the reason you haven’t tried Natalie’s work yet is that you’re into contemporary and not spec fic, you’re in luck, because Fish Out Of Water is awesome.
My brief review:
Fish Out of Water is about many things–racism, romance, growing up–but at its core, it’s a book about family. What I loved most about it was the way that every person in Mika’s family is treated with compassion by the narrative. There are no villains here, just people trying to love one another even–and especially–when it’s not easy.
What makes the book work is Mika’s character–she’s as complex as the book’s themes: passionate, confused, angry, prideful, and always, always sympathetic. Mika has to deal with hard issues–like her grandmother’s racism and illness–and she manages to do so tenaciously while also tripping over her own flaws. It’s a tough balance, but Natalie manages to strike it just right–neither preachy nor light minded, but real.
If you’re into that sort of thing, you should read it. It’s a good one.