Almost a month ago, I rode with my mom to drop off my little sister at college for her freshmen year. My sister is seven years younger than me, and while we have a lot in common, there is one major difference between the two of us: while I have always jumped at an opportunity to travel and live somewhere new, she never even liked going on sleepovers.
That's why I was delighted to see Ramsey Beyer's Little Fish on my review pile. In fact, Caitlin (the sister headed off to her freshmen year) was also super excited to see in on my desk, too.
While Ramsey grew up in the Mid-west, our hometown is decidedly city-based. Ramsey had no familiar faces on campus, but Caitlin chose a school where she knew some of her friends would also be attending, and her boyfriend is just fifteen minutes away at a different college. Ramsey headed off to an arts school in Baltimore (fun fact--also where I went to college!), and Caitlin is enrolled in a five year program for early childhood education.
For all their differences, I had to put the book down more than once due to an uncomfortable feeling that I was reading Caitlin's journal rather than a published auto-biography by someone I'd never met. And after a few moments of reflection, I realized the simple truth: we all go through the same shit. While Little Fish's tagline is "A memoir from a different kind of year", it could easily be a memoir from my freshmen year, or Caitlin's, or any of my friends and/or other sisters, too. The details would be different, and I definitely wouldn't have thought of the format, but the meat of the story would be the same. Rather than disappointing, there was something warmly comforting about that fact.
It would seem that it doesn't matter when we go to school, or how much technology there is connecting us with our family and friends. College will always be a tough adjustment. In today's world full of tragic endings, bullys at all levels of school, and feelings of disassociation for a variety of reasons, it's nice to read a coming-of-age tale with a happy ending.