Life in a Fishbowl
By Len Vlahos
Jackie’s life wasn’t perfect, but it was normal. That is, until her dad got a terminal cancer diagnosis. Then went and did what anyone faced with mountains of medical bills and a family to support would do: he sold his life to the highest bidder.
Which turned out to be a TV station.
Suddenly everyone from psychotic millionaires to cyber-savvy nuns wants a piece of Jackie’s family as they become a reality TV sensation. Her life spirals out of control just as her dad’s starts to run out and meanwhile the whole world is tuning in to watch her family fall apart …
Warning this review contains some spoilers.
Despite its subject matter this is essentially an uplifting and heart-warming book and written in a way that is ideal for young adults.
Fifteen year old Jackie Stone has a very close relationship with her father Jared.
She kept a photo of her dad, Jared taped to the inside of her locker at school…Whenever the day got rough, which for Jackie was more often than not, she would sneak a peek at that photo. It had become a kind of visual security blanket.
Normally Thursdays are Jackie’s favourite night of the week because that is the night she and Jared watch TV together after dinner with the rest of the family. They refer to it as a ‘father daughter date night.’
Jackie is a bit of an outsider and tends to prefer to do her socialising on the internet as she is not as popular in school as her younger sister Megan. Otherwise her only refuge is with her father.
Curling into the warmth and safety of her father’s shoulder gave Jackie a feeling of peace and comfort that she found nowhere else in the world.
This particular Thursday though Jared was late getting home so Jackie retreats to her bedroom so she can get away from her sister Megan who likes to torment her whenever possible.
Meanwhile Jared is receiving some devastating news.
Jared stone liked his brain. He liked it a lot…Jared’s brain you could say, was his best friend. Which was what made it so hard to hear that his brain had a high-grade glioblastoma multiforme – or what have it hard had Jared known what a high-grade glioblastoma multiforme was.
I liked the way the author personalises the brain tumour and gives it a voice and a name Glio.
The high-grade glioblastoma multiforme tumour liked Jared Stone’s brain. It liked it a lot. In fact, it found it delicious.
Jared does know how he is going to tell his wife and children that he is going to die so he keeps it to himself originally. Whilst he is trying to deal with the news he comes across an article about a divorced man who put all his personal possessions up for sale on Ebay. This gives Jared an idea: he decides to create a listing to auction his life on Ebay so that his family will have enough money to live comfortably after he has died.
*Human Life for Sale *
Fourty-five-year-old man with four months to live is selling his life to the highest bidder. You may do with him as you please – slavery, murder, torture, or just pleasant conversation. A human life, yours to control, yours to own. Buyers must live in a state or country with a law allowing assisted suicide and the buyer bears the cost of transportation and tax. There is a reserve for this auction.”
There were lots of really intriguing characters introduced at this point in the form of potential bidders or people who were touched in some way by news of his bid.
Hazel Huck, a 17 year old from Huntsville, Alabama lives in a community where the girls are only interested in their coming-out parties and things like that.
Hazel was a square peg in a round hole. All she is interested in is playing Warcraft and other role playing games. She sees Jared’s add and for her it is a call to action.
Then there is Ethan Overbee, a 32 year old man who is lacking a DNA marker that was responsible for human empathy. He is the youngest man to ever hold the position of deputy executive in charge of programming for the America Television network ATN.
Sister Benedict Joan is a nun who feels like she has a higher calling and also has a slight addiction to the internet.
You could say the only thing Sister Benedict Joan liked more than the Internet was Christ himself. She finds out about Jared’s listing on her blog Christ’s Cadets and she makes it her personal mission to stop him from ending his life.
Sherman Kingsborough is a stinking rich 23 year old man who uses his money to carry out all his whims.
“Sherman was incorrectly led to believe that his mother had abandoned him. With no siblings and no parents, and having grown up in a world of excess and extravagance, Sherman’s moral compass was left to drift unchecked. It spun round and round, never quite finding North. “
Sherman wants to bid on Jared’s life in order to get him to participate in a Hunger Games style event in which they will fight to the death.
This story is both humorous and heart-breaking, Jared’s tumour and the ensuing events bring the family closer together in many ways. The most touching scene for me was when Jared and his wife Deidre are discussing what is going on in his life.
'I won’t do anything you wouldn’t want me to do’
‘Then don’t die.’ She said it so softly she wasn’t sure Jared had heard her. When Deidre rolled back over she saw serpentine streaks of tears carving rivers on her husband’s cheek. ‘Oh, Jare,’ she said and took his hand.”
This was a great read. It made me think about all sorts of topics none of which I can discuss without revealing some major spoilers.
Our Final Rating...
Read & Shared 55 Times.