Cover image for Life in a fishbowl / by Len Vlahos.
Life in a fishbowl / by Len Vlahos.
Publication Information:
New York : Bloomsbury, 2017.

Physical Description:
328 pages ; 22 cm
Fifteen-year-old Jackie is determined to reclaim her family's privacy and dignity by ending a reality television program about her father's terminal brain tumor.


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1 Bob Harkins Branch VLA Book Teen Collection

On Order



Fifteen-year-old Jackie Stone's father is dying.

When Jackie discovers that her father has been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor, her whole world starts to crumble. She can't imagine how she'll live without him . . .

Then, in a desperate act to secure his family's future, Jackie's father does the unthinkable--he puts his life up for auction on eBay. Jackie can do nothing but watch and wait as an odd assortment of bidders, some with nefarious intentions, drive the price up higher. The fate of her entire family hangs in the balance.

But no one can predict how the auction will finally end, or any of the very public fallout that ensues. Life as Jackie knows it is about to change forever . . .

In this brilliantly written tragicomedy told through multiple points of view--including Jackie's dad's tumor--acclaimed author Len Vlahos deftly explores what it really means to live.

"A weird, sardonic delight with the shape of an allegory and the heart of a joyful song."
--Brenna Yovanoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Replacement

"Surprising, original, political, and deeply affecting . . . It is one of those rare works of art that keeps you guessing up to the very last page."
--Leila Sales, author of This Song Will Save Your Life

"It will tear you apart, and yet it's an absolute joy."
--Adi Alsaid, author of Let's Get Lost and Never, Always, Sometimes

Author Notes

Len Vlahos is the Executive Director of BISG, and the former COO of the American Booksellers Association, where he worked for the past 20 years. At the ABA, he had overall responsibility for ABA's Winter Institute. He has also worked in indie, chain, and university bookstores, was an on-air personality for a commercial radio station in Atlantic City, and worked for a time for Internet marketing guru Seth Godin. He was in a punk rock band in the mid-1980s. The Woofing Cookies toured and their music was played on dozens of college radio stations coast to coast. He is the author of The Scar Boys and Scar Girl.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

With wry humor and blunt honesty, Vlahos (The Scar Boys) unspools the story of a family whose father signs them up for a reality show after being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Written in third-person, the novel rotates frequently among several characters, including 15-year-old Jackie Stone, the eldest daughter in the family; father Jared, who wants to ensure that his family is taken care of after his death; Ethan Overbee, a shrewd television executive who hopes to capitalize on this family's tragedy; and Glio, Jared's inoperable tumor, who busily and gleefully devours his host's memories. Vlahos captures both the worst and best of society: its voyeuristic, reality-show addiction and fascination with celebrity, as well as its ability to unite around a common cause. From page one, it's evident that the ending will not be a happy one, but numerous laugh-out-loud moments and beautifully drawn characters make for a powerful journey that will leave a lasting imprint on readers. Ages 12-up. Agent: Sandra Bond, Bond Literary. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

Jared Stone--local politician, graphic designer, devoted husband, and father of two teen girls--learns that he has an advanced brain tumor. Wanting to leave his family with financial security (and not exactly thinking clearly), he comes up with a scheme to sell the remainder of his life to the highest bidder on eBay. Before Jared is blocked from the site, he receives a surprising amount of interest from a varied cast of characters whom we follow throughout the narrative (including a racist nun, a teenage online gamer, and millionaire child-rapist) before he strikes up a deal with a reality television producer: in exchange for several million dollars awarded to Jared's family, the American Television Network gains twenty-four-hour access to the dying of Jared Stone. The third-person narrative shifts perspectives (among Jared, his family members, the eBay bidders, and, perhaps most oddly, Jared's anthropomorphized tumor), and some are more successful than others; the voices of the teen girls especially don't always ring true. Nevertheless, the story--equal parts compelling, satirical, and unsettling--will stay with readers. kazia berkley-cramer (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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