Look Out for the Fitzgerald-Trouts by Esta Spalding
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My Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5/5)
The Fitzgerald-Trouts are four loosely related children with two different mothers and two different fathers. Their family tree will have you wanting to draw a diagram to try to figure out and understand just how these children are related. Not only is their family tree complicated, their situation as a whole is even more mind boggling. Set in a lush tropical island, the Fitzgerald-Trouts were abandoned by all four parents to mostly fend for their own selves with only a car to call their “home.” Throughout the entire book, we follow the four Fitzgerald-Trout children go about their daily lives—from hanging out at the laundromat where they can watch T.V. to going to school where the classrooms are without walls or a roof—and their search for a house to finally call their proper home.
Right away in the very first chapter, we are smoothly introduced to each children: Kim, Kimo, Pippa and Toby. The readers are given an idea of what to expect from each character, personality-wise. Esta Spalding wastes no time bringing these main characters to life and that to me was something worth noting. Another impressive thing that made my reading experience enjoyable is how well Spalding introduced the fictional island. Aside from the brief map provided in the beginning of the book, I think Spalding painted an imagery of the island very beautifully, so much so that the island seemed to come to life as I read on.
While the Fitzgerald-Trouts’ story is very unique and unlike anything I’ve read about before, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Baudelaire children (from A Series of Unfortunate Events). You can imagine it was no surprise to me when I found out that Lemony Snicket (the author of A Series of Unfortunate Events) actually has a little praise at the back cover of the book. Thinking about how unfortunate and heartbreaking the Fitzgerald-Trouts situation was brought me back to the days I read about the Baudelaire children and feeling absolutely sorry for them. It was difficult to not want the best for each children and for all of them to come out on top of all the tribulations they are faced with. With that being said, if you’re someone who grew up reading about the Baudelaire children (or someone who didn’t get to know them until their adulthood, like myself), then I guarantee you will appreciate this book just as much.
Despite this being a middle-grade book, I believe this would suit any adult reader. In an odd way, this book was actually very refreshing, humbling, and eye-opening. As I read on about the Fitzgerald-Trouts, I couldn’t help but think about the things I take for granted sometimes and the simple things that are often dismissed but actually lead to genuine happiness—like a roof over my head and a bed to sleep and dream in at the end of each day.
If you give the Fitzgerald-Trouts a chance, I can promise you that they will easily wiggle their ways into your heart and leave a tiny but significant mark. You will find yourself constantly rooting for these children and wanting the best for them. Like myself, you would probably end up wanting to take them into your own arms, shower them with love, tell them everything will be alright, and give them all that they have been neglected of. Not only will you feel humbled when you’ve put this book down, you will also be reminded to be kind and generous to those you meet (especially children), because a little kindness goes a long way, and an even longer way to those who are less fortunate.