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The Benefits of Being an Octopus

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  7,194 ratings  ·  1,444 reviews
Some people can do their homework. Some people get to have crushes on boys. Some people have other things they’ve got to do.

Seventh-grader Zoey has her hands full as she takes care of her much younger siblings after school every day while her mom works her shift at the pizza parlor. Not that her mom seems to appreciate it. At least there’s Lenny, her mom’s boyfriend—they a
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published September 4th 2018 by Sky Pony Press
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Sarah┌(^^)┘ This book is a realistic fiction book about a girl juggling complicated things in her life. I would recommend if you enjoy realistic fiction.

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4.5 stars for The Benefits of Being an Octopus. This is a wonderfully-written story about a young girl who has learned all too young that moral decisions aren't nearly as black and white as many people wish they would be.

We follow seventh-grader Zoey as she struggles to make it through each day. Beyond the usual teen woes of homework and fitting in, Zoey also has to deal with shouldering a lot of the parental duties in her family. She has three younger siblings (including an infant) she must car
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
'The Benefits of Being an Octopus' is Ann Braden's wonderful children's debut, that both taught and humbled me as an adult reader. The story is one of poverty, prejudice and the seemingly insurmountable odds that many families and children experience. It focuses on seventh grader (year eight in England and Wales) Zoey and her brave fight to overcome the odds that are stacked against her. Make no mistake, this is a powerful story with a beautiful message and an incredible heroine to boot!

A timele
Jul 02, 2018 rated it liked it
I received an ARC of this book from Sky Pony Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.

The review for this one is long due. Basically, I finished it about ten days ago and didn’t get the time to write a review.

I picked up The Benefits of Being an Octopus after I read Nina's interesting review. It is a simple book that deals with powerful themes. The central character, Zoey, a middle grader reveals about her struggles with poverty and domestic abuse. As the book unfolds, s
Dani ❤️ Perspective of a Writer
Check out more reviews @ Perspective of a Writer...

7th-grader Zoey has her hands full and thinks how much easier everything would be if she were an octopus: 8 arms to do 8 things at once. Incredible camouflage ability and steady, unblinking vision. Powerful protective defenses. Unfortunately, she’s not invisible, and a teacher forces her to join the debate club. Even though she resists participating, it leads her to see things in a new way… Explore the cultural divides around class and the gun
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, netgalley
Zoey doesn't have a chance to worry about the normal woes of seventh grade, like homework and crushes. She's too busy helping her family just scrape by, but with three other siblings, she'd have to be an octopus with eight tentacles to juggle every task. However, one of her teachers forces her to join the debate club and soon Zoey can't help but examine the different sides of the relationships around her.

Zoey is such a strong and complicated character to follow throughout this novel. When she fi
Cassie Thomas
Jul 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As an educator I can’t even begin to explain to you the quiet importance that Ms. Rochambeau plays in this story. This will be a book that will not only be a very vital window for students to look in, but also a mirror to know they aren’t alone. Ann has touched on topics that I know for a fact students experience, or something similar, on a day in, day out basis, but are not quick to speak up. I feel as though all middle grade students and teachers need to read this book, and soon.
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade-ya
"Some people can do their homework. Some people get to have crushes on boys. Some people have other things they've got to do." (p.52)

"How is it possible to have no visible cage around you, but to be so trapped?" (p.208)
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
All I need is to know something—and I do. And maybe, just maybe, if I do this—and if I can rock it—all the other kids will have their minds blown, and it’ll be completely satisfying to watch. “Who would have guessed,” they’ll say, “that Zoey knew so much cool stuff? I had no idea! I thought I knew who she was, but clearly I didn’t at all.” Maybe Kaylee Vine would even stop holding her nose and switching seats on the bus to get away from me.

The Benefits of Being an Octopus is a treasure of a book
MissBecka Gee
Zoey is a lovable little weirdo trying to survive being a teenager, an older sister, a friend, and an outsider.
This was a fantastic coming of age story with a delightfully quirky main character.
There were a few unanswered questions for me at the end, but not enough to deter me from recommending this to everyone.
Some heavy bits, some funny bits and some weird bits.
Give it a read, I think you'll like it!
Much love to NetGalley and Skyhorse Publishing for allowing me early access to this book.
Jul 06, 2018 rated it liked it
I got sent this book in exchange for a honest review, all my opinions are my own and thank you so much to the publishers for sending me this book!

So in this book we follow Zoey who we follow through the novel as she faces different challenges and subjects like racism and gun safety and overall just her being able to fit in.
I was very bland with my summarising but it's hard not to give too much away.

Some parts of this book worked for me and some didn't, I just didn't feel emotionally attached to
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I had a visceral reaction to the ending scenes of this book. I literally could not breathe. I don't think I've ever had that kind of response before. Wow. Needless to say, Ann Braden's writing has blown me away. My favorite line: "I think that sometimes you need to have your back up against the wall to find out what you're made of. And you just haven't had that happen to you yet."
I would strongly suggest this for the RI middle school book award list.
Nina (Every Word A Doorway)
Jun 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
It's been a long time since I dived into a Middle Grade contemporary novel, and I was a bit hesitant about going into The Benefits of Being an Octopus. I needn't have worried, though, because I took a liking to this book from the very first page – based on a quote.

"The history of the octopus illustrates the brain's ability to evolve. As they lost their ancestors' protective shells they were forced to become more intelligent." – The Octopus: Graceful Cephalopod of the Deep by Derby King

Ann Braden
Julie Parks
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memorable, ya
Wow, what a powerful book for teenagers and about teenagers. If I could I would give this so much more than just 5 stars. It has the quality of an award-winning short story and a pace of a thriller. Spot-on in every aspect.

It isn't often when an adult writer actually manages to write for young readers in a way that both appeals and is also very insightful. This book made me laugh and cry tears as big as kidney beans. There were so many broken strings inside Zoey and myself...memories of my own c
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Zoey is a tween, living in a trailer that belongs to her mother's boyfriend, attending school but doing very little work, caring for her young siblings while Zoey's mother and the boyfriend work their low-end jobs. It's an impossible life for all of them, but the trailer and the reliable transportation the boyfriend offers have lifted the small family marginally up, and Zoey's mom struggles to pacify her boyfriend so that the family has a clean place to live and food to eat. Zoey can do little b ...more
Laura Harrison
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the best children's books of 2018. ...more
Jun 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I received an ARC of this book from Sky Pony Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

This book was incredible. I’m surprised that this was Ann Braden’s debut novel and a middle-grade!

”That’s one of the things about the people on that beautiful tropical island: they can’t see who’s floating about in the ocean around them. Or maybe they can and they just choose not to look. I don’t know. I’ve never been there.”

We followed Zoey in this story, a 7th grader with many u
Sep 05, 2018 rated it liked it
There are good books and there are bad ones. “The Benefits of Being an Octopus” is somewhere in the middle. I have not felt for characters or a plot, they seemed too simple for me. But I liked the background of a story – poor Americans living in the trailers.

For foreigners America is a dream country. A place, where you can come and begin a happy life without poorness. And even if poverty exists – it’s only for immigrants, who don’t want to work hard, or so we’ve been told by stereotypes. But thi
La La
4.5 on the blog.

I loved this book and what it had to say and show. There is a big misconception out there that most poor people are lazy and don't work, or don't work hard enough. This story shows how people get caught up in the circle of just getting by which pivots on greedy people with the means to buy property charging too much for rentals that are barely livable and people who have to live in them because they don't get paid a livable wage for doing hard work other people stick their noses
catherine ♡
Jun 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade
*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free e-copy in exchange for an honest review.*

Actual Rating: 3.75

I was immediately drawn to this book because of the cover. It's simple, yet colorful and aesthetic, and it fits the vibe of the story very well!

The Benefits of Being an Octopus follows Zoey, a seventh grader who doesn't have time to deal with crushes or even homework. She's too busy taking care of her younger siblings while her family barely scrapes by. But one of her teachers forces her
Shaye Miller
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Meet Zoey, a seventh-grader who somehow juggles her school activities, being responsible for her three younger siblings, and worrying over her mother’s slowly diminished confidence. If only she could be an octopus with eight arms, ink as a defense, and the ability to camouflage herself in awkward situations. One day Zoey discovers exactly why her mother has shrunk beyond recognition and, in utter frustration, she finds a brave and powerful voice both at home and at school. We witness far more th ...more
Sep 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way effects my overall rating of this book.

This book broke my heart into a million pieces. It’s rare when I’m completely engulfed in a book and feel so much for the characters and what they’re going through. But I felt for these characters so much. I felt their desperation and their struggles and every raw emotion they experienced.

The book follows our protagonist Zoey. She lives in a small trailer with her
Michelle (Sherbet Lemon)
I read this book for the Around the Year in 52 Books challenge of something I stumbled across this year. I found it on audible when browsing one day and it just seemed right up my ally.

There's so much to like about this book, including discussions about how nothing is ever just black and white, and that there are all kinds of greys in issues around being human in this world. It also deals with abuse and that it doesn't have to look like physical violence in order to be abuse, has the main chara
Mar 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
This has Newbery written all over it, imo. Issues explored carefully, not simplistically. Controversies explored without straw men. Adults who are real, who are flawed but trying (though not always very hard), who were young once themselves. An admission that there's no such thing as HEA but an inspiration to keep on working towards one.

And lots and lots of potential for classroom and family discussion, for enrichment activities, and obviously for bibliotherapy.

Also, despite being fairly intens
This book gives a desperately needed voice to the youth in our communities who face the hardships of poverty. It is so difficult for those not living in poverty to understand the impact on those who do. This book is a tender, compassionate, and beautiful call to empathy.

The thing I was most unprepared for as a teacher was the emotional weight that comes with caring about young people who live in poverty. I have students who are homeless, who miss school to care for younger siblings, who have st
I received an ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This is a scary, brave, complicated, important book. It's a book about getting out of abusive relationships, about the gun control debate, about things not being black-and-white, about bullying, about speaking up, about a girl with the weight of the world on her soldiers, and yes, about octopuses, too.

That's one of the things about people on that beautiful tropical island: they can't see who's floating about in the ocean around
Oct 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
4.5 Stars


I’ve had a few days to gather my thoughts, and I’m still having a hard time formulating them.

I started reading this book at a party after finishing JAKE AND LILY and I’ll be perfectly honest, I wasn’t that interested at first. I honestly thought about DNFing it until I looked at it, sitting there on my shelf, and thought, ‘Let’s give it another shot’.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m so glad I did.

I’m not quite so sure what it is I really loved about it. Maybe it was Zoey’s character. I real
Jeanie Phillips
Check out a podcast conversation about this book here:

An excellent middle grades novel! Braden provides a window into the life of 7th grade Zoey, a girl doing her best to hold her working poor family together. I see so many possibilities for this book: an empathy building read, an opportunity to examine systemic oppression, and a thoughtful alternative to the teacher as savior trope. Bonus points for being set in VT and written by a Vermonter.
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This just . . . I mean . . . everyone needs to read it.


Don't question me. I'm a professional.
Nov 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was really good. I liked it a lot. I think the ending was really great. The author did a really good job on capturing what Zoey felt. I would recommend this book to everyone.
Rita Shaffer
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So sad, but oh so real for too many.
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Ann Braden writes books about kids trying to stand up for themselves even when life is hard. Her newest middle grade novel FLIGHT OF THE PUFFIN prompted a coast-to-coast read aloud with over 30,000 readers in over 700 locations nationwide taking part. Her debut novel THE BENEFITS OF BEING AN OCTOPUS was named one of NPR’s Best Books of 2018 and has appeared on more than a dozen state lists. Ann fo ...more

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