Since it’s back to school time for so many, let’s take a look at a book that explores what it means to take that next step and get out of your comfort zone: Little Fish by Ramsey Beyer. An autobiographical memoir on what it felt like to be a small town 18-year-old going to art school in the city, we see how things affect Ramsey via vignettes and her lists.
I, personally, identified a lot with this book. While I didn’t go to college in a big city, I did step out on my own doing a lot of theater work, and just the act and challenges of moving out of the house and onto campus is reflected in a lot of this book. I really feel like the author captures homesickness, the changing nature of friendship with high school/home town friends, and struggling to get out of one’s comfort zone. I like that we get to follow her through a journey – it’s not ‘oh I moved away and after a few bumps I made it and things are great, yay!’ She has to constantly work at things throughout the book – work to figure out how to survive as a semi-adult, work to keep up with classes and develop her own artistic style now that she’s not in a small town/big fish and little pond situation, she has to work at the ever-changing nature of friendships and other relationships.
I loved getting to know all the different people in her friends circle and all the little ins and outs of her college life. I really grew to feel for Ramsey and want her to succeed. She’s the type of character (and person, since it’s obviously based on her experience) I’d totally hang out with, and a lot of the episodes in this book really hit home for me. The lists threw me a bit at first, but I soon got into the groove of reading them showing up in the context of the plot. The art is approachable and really empowers the narrative of growing into yourself.
Definitely recommended for not just teens going off to school, but also to kids who aren’t to that point yet. There aren’t nearly enough books that talk about the actual feelings and challenges that this kind of a transition means, so I’d say anyone from maybe thirteen or fourteen on up that are prone to looking ahead in life would get something out of it.
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