Bluefish is a quiet gem of a novel about two teens whose new friendship dramatically changes their lives for the better. Here are two kids with awful home lives: both of their caretakers are absent alcoholics. In spite of this, with the support of each other and the help of a very special teacher, they thrive. Both Velveeta and Travis grow tremendously during the course of the book. Teachers will love the intuitive English teacher who sees what is really going on with Velveeta and Travis, and quietly helps them through books. Realizing that Travis cannot read, and that Velveeta is a very bright girl in need, this teacher brings the two friends together on the sly. He and Velveeta are secret partners in teaching Travis how to read. While remaining a tough teacher, he pulls the best possible performance out of these students. In the end, it does wonders for their self-esteem. While this book is easy enough for a tween to read, there are some mature parts. Prior to the book starting (but mentioned later), Velveeta's unofficial caretaker died, as did Travis's dog. Both grieve throughout the course of the book. Language is mild: sh-t, d-mn, and there is a brief mention of prostitutes. Travis's alcoholic grandpa who is on and off the wagon daily does his best but is a nasty drunk and Travis hits him in one scene. A mature tween (and all teens) will appreciate this rich story and the meaningful moments between all of the unforgettable characters.