Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“There’s a box that contains life and everything else.”
The opening line is what contains the crux of the novel’s meaning. At first, the word ‘box’ went over my head, and I had myself convinced that it was going to be the fishbowl that contained life and everything else. After reading it, I can come to the conclusion that this early interpretation wasn’t far off wrong. This book is a representation of life and how people’s lives interconnect. The time frame that the novel spans is a mere 30 mins, and the distance it takes Ian to fall is even more fleeting, at just under 4 seconds. But it is this realization that puts the rest of the novel in a new light, where you can look at it from a new perspective. In fact, you can look at it from multiple perspectives, but ultimately, they turn out to be what we know, and what we think of as life.
The novel is set in and around an apartment building called the Seville on Roxy, and by reading this book you will get to meet some of the various inhabitants of this apartment building, and have a glimpse into half an hour of their lives. I found this book hard to put down. The characters are brilliant, and the storytelling is as storytelling should be: captivating, entertaining, thought-provoking and message-giving. The way Somer has weaved this story together is admirable.
Before starting this book, I assumed it would be told from the perspective of Ian the fish (great name for a fish by the way) but I was wrong. Ian is an integral part of the novel, and the significance of this is made known at the end of the book, but it isn’t told from his perspective, and I have to say, that wasn’t a disappointment given my initial assumptions. I have two goldfish, Hammy and Gerd, and I won’t be able to look at them without now thinking of Ian.
I loved some characters more than others, but they are all likable, and lovable in their own right. Even the ones we don’t meet, or only meet briefly. This book makes you think about every individual that you encounter. What is their life like? Did my coming into contact with them influence them in any way? What are they thinking? What are their problems, loves, interests? In this, we get to delve into those lives and find the answer to those questions.
Books that play with time, or have time as a theme can be sometimes confusing, but this book manages to make time a huge part of the overall story without being confusing. It is seamless and I couldn’t help but smile at the nuances and details that are subtly weaved in. They are only small, but they make a big difference to the enjoyment of the story.
I’m thinking about life in a different way in the wake of reading this book, and I’d recommend this to anyone who thinks philosophically, likes serendipity, contemplates life, and loves goldfish.
Definitely worth a read. 100%. Even if it’s just for the sheer brilliance of the chapter titles!
“Some people are so in love they can’t say it because they’re afraid to scare off the objects of their affection with the intensity of their emotions.”
“Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes that reason is a choice that was made, sometimes that reason is serendipity, and sometimes it is divine. It doesn’t matter; life cascades on in response. Everything happens for a reason, but most often, that reason is blurry without the benefit of hindsight.”
Link to the book on Goodreads: