Clownfish- Alan Durant

Walker Books

Review By Gemma E McLaughlin

This book is one I was interested in right away after reading the back. What struck me most about the description of Clownfish is its fascinatingly unique perspective on grief. We have all of course seen in books, authors working with death and the many ways in which they effect the main characters, but something I have never seen in my time is such an almost light, youthful take on the subject. I was incredibly pleased to see someone doing something so different with a topic that has been around for all of time and so of course I simply had to give it a try.

The story is written in the perspective of a young boy named Dak following his father’s death, and works with his point of view of a child to illustrate what that means for him. Shortly after the funeral, however, Dak goes to the aquarium and comes across a clownfish who he miraculously finds himself speaking to, and becoming convinced that instead of dying his dad had turned into. The book depicts Dak’s inspirational journey of acceptance and well written growth for not only him, but the other characters as well.

Something I enjoyed about the book was it’s use of Dak and his father’s shared love of fish and the movie Finding Nemo. When Dak was younger he would always watch Finding Nemo with his dad and this became an important device in the book with heartbreaking comparisons from the plot of the movie to Dak’s life and the reasons he sees his dad as that clownfish. Alan Durant uses the idea from the movie of searching for someone but takes it to a whole new perspective that really paints an interesting and I believe much needed picture of how differently people deal with grief.

Dak is a charming and easily relatable character who experiences serious growth over the course of the book. His childlike innocence allows us to sympathise with him in the pain he experiences and to understand the themes that this wonderful, and sometimes complex novel takes on. He learns valuable lessons from his experiences at such a young age that many people that are much older still struggle with and though he has lost something incredibly important, he is strong in ways that I don’t know I could ever imagine being.

I think the perspective and messages that this book portray are important to hear and eloquently portrayed in Alan Durant’s style. I found the book difficult to get into at first, but it’s something I definitely believe is worth sticking through especially for the ending. Overall this is a sweet, sometimes funny but mainly heartwarming story that is absolutely worth a read.