LIFE IN A FISHBOWL by Len Vlahos

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Jackie and her father, Jared, have always been close.  But when a tumor (“Glio” as it has named itself) begins chowing down on Jared’s memories, he forgets to mention to his daughter (or his wife, or any of his family, in fact) that he has come to a monumental decision:  since he is soon to die anyway, he will auction himself on eBay and the highest bidder can do whatever he or she wants with him. As Jackie, her mother, and her sister reel from the shock of discovering Jared’s eBay posting, a cast of colorful characters step forward to bid on Jared’s life.  As it turns out, it is illegal to auction a human on eBay, but a reality TV producer pays the family $5 million to put their lives on camera.  But as Jackie overcomes her shock, she realizes that she can’t allow her father’s last days to be manipulated and broadcast by the soulless TV people who have descended on her home.  She is going to fight back.  Meanwhile, Glio continues its feast.

The premise and the quirky, absurdist style of this novel make it uniquely engaging.  Vlahos uses the extreme example of a family stripped of their privacy, agency, and personal rights to frame Jared’s argument for legalized assisted suicide.  I would highly recommend this novel to teen readers who enjoy realistic fiction and absurd, omniscient narration (e.g., The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy or Slaughterhouse Five).

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