Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Down in the Belly of the Whale” as Want to Read:
Down in the Belly of the Whale
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Down in the Belly of the Whale

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  67 ratings  ·  55 reviews
A contemporary story about family and friendship for fans of Eleanor Porter and L.M. Montgomery.

Harper Southwood is a teenage girl who can sense when people will get sick—but so what? She can’t predict her best friend’s depression or her mother’s impending health crisis. Being helpful is all Harper ever wanted, but she feels helpless in the face of real adversity. Now, she
Paperback, 235 pages
Published May 5th 2018 by Aionios Books, LLC
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Down in the Belly of the Whale, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Down in the Belly of the Whale

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.69  · 
Rating details
 ·  67 ratings  ·  55 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Down in the Belly of the Whale
Briar's Reviews
Down in the Belly of the Whale by Kelley Kay Bowles is a witty and ingenious Young Adult novel that addresses a multitude of tough subject matter in an eye-opening manner.

I don't know how Kelley does it, but she always manages to impress me. This time around, Kelley has a Young Adult novel that addresses so many tough subjects in one go! Topics such as self harm, child abuse, Multiple Sclerosis, loss of innocence, suicide and not so supportive parents are just some of the many that are tackled i
Erin Bembridge
Nov 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
4 cookies
I was given a copy of this book in exchange for a honest review
(So I wanted to try something new and do cookies instead of stars so here we go...)
First I want to thank this publisher for giving me the opportunity to review this book!!
First off... Why did this take me forever!? And secondly oh my goodness... This book literally had me crying. It was really good! Now... On to analyzing!
Harper: Harper showed some real character development throu
The spirit, the voice and the viewpoint of a young teen come alive through Kelley Kay Bowles’s DOWN IN THE BELLY OF A WHALE. Step into Harper’s world and her mind as she witnesses the life she has always known become a roiling vat of turmoil she would do anything in her power to quell, if only she felt she had that power. Then again, with all of the bravado of youth, she just might…Get ready to laugh, to cry, to be angered and appalled as the innocence of youth is stripped away and the world bec ...more
shady boots
Thank you to NetGalley & Aionos Books for providing me an advanced copy.

Trigger warning: Sexual assault/rape, suicide, self-harm.

So I finished this book in one sitting because it's a very fast and short read, and I suppose that's one of the very few positives I can say about it. That and I did kinda like the friendship between the main character Harper and her best friend, thought it was genuinely sweet at parts.

I can't really think of any other positives other than those two things, so I'm just
Apr 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley2018
This is a rare time that I feel I need to give four stars even though I never got that into the book.

Harper has the perfect family and that's why she's found out she's a changeling, a troll, because how could she be part of that family? And she has a very useless superpower of knowing when people are about to get sick. That's it, she can't do anything to prevent it, she simply feels in her something is wrong. And that's how she knew her best friend was cutting herself. And even that seems to be
PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps
***Thank you to NetGalley for providing me a complimentary copy of the book DOWN THE BELLY OF THE WHALE byKelley Kay Bowles in exchange for my honest review.***

2.5 stars

Harper believes she can sense when others are sick, almost like hypochondria by proxy, but she’s not wrong to be worried about her best friend Cora cutting herself or her mother’s add symptoms. Harper only wants to protect those she loves. Just because she can’t prevent bad things, she learns, doesn’t mean she can’t be help them
Dec 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
So this started out pretty well, I initially liked the narrators voice, liked her quirky mother and liked where I thought it was heading (illness).
It headed there but in a completely flippant way and the twist with her friend was equally if not more frivolously written. The issue of rape was poorly dealt with. I mean how can the MC go within seconds from sympathy for her friends account of sexual assault to lamenting over an unrequited crush? I started to lose any connection with the MC and the
Jan 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
Well, this was..unpleasant. Review to come closer to release date.
Alice 🌙
4/5 ⭐️
Cute short book about uniqueness and mental health and family problems and boys all rolled into one book
Hélène Louise
I liked this story very much and read very quickly, as a page turner. I was especially entranced by the young narrator voice, the best facet of the book: Harper sounds like a very credible gifted teenager, clever and funny, in a self deprecating kind of way, and a bubbling mind, which frequently let her to obsess about some thing or another. She’s smart and wise, but can also be very short sighted in some situations (her infatuation with a boy based only on his looks for instance), marking her a ...more
Apr 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Down in the Belly of the Whale by Kelley Kay Bowles is a story about a girl with a strange ability to detect illness in others. Harper Southwood is a sweet, insecure teen, with a desire to help the ones she loves.

I enjoyed the relationship between the two main characters’ (Harper and Cora) and although Harper seemed younger than sixteen, she was very relatable. Who doesn’t hate their frizzy
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thank you, Kelley Kay Bowles!
“Down in the Belly of the Whale” offers a refreshing take on today’s heroine! In this 21st century, where there is so much drama and so much angst eating at the hearts of our young adult population, it’s nice to read about a quirky and upbeat character, who can inspire a fresh perspective on tomorrow, despite the challenges of today..
Bowles presents some very real and ever-present issues and demonstrates that things don’t always happen as we would wish and there aren
Apr 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Before I review, I'd like to thank Aionos for providing me with a review copy.

Full review to come on April 29th, on

Some tidbits:
1. Down in the Belly of the Whale was clearly loved by its author, and that shows. There was such care put into presenting an honest story, and I can appreciate that.
2. Harper was totally adorable, and I love how she did her absolute best to help people.
3. This book actually features supportive, loving parents, instead o
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
While I felt the ending was a trifle rushed/glossed over, this was an engaging YA story. The themes of abuse, illness/loss, and first romances blended nicely with humor and the main character’s quirks.
Valicity Elaine
Just Misses The Mark

This is a YA contemporary that tackles a lot of issues, so the first thing I want to do is offer a warning to potential readers. If you’re looking at this review, I’d like you to know that this book deals a lot with mental illness and its triggers; that means subjects like self-harm, suicide, child abuse, and sexual abuse are addressed here so if you’re sensitive to those subjects, I’d steer clear of this.

First, let me detail the plotline of the story; this YA contempora
Kara Jay
Aug 14, 2019 rated it liked it
I received a copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

2.5 stars.

I loved this story, it just felt like the tone was wrong.
I couldn't connect with Harper's character mostly due to her way of speaking. Harper can sense illnesses in others due to how her body reacts when around them. I am intrigued by this idea and actually kind of liked how it played out.
The rest of this story is full of really upsetting storylines that I'm going to avoid in an effort not to spoil it for you. Howev
May 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: arcs
This review was originally published at

There is so much to unpack here. 

Harper is your average, everyday high school girl who thinks she is a changeling troll child and has the basic maturity level of a 10-year-old. She is just living her strange life when she spots self-harm marks on her friend's leg, which kick-starts the plot of this fantastically problematic book!

Things I learned about Harper, the main character of Down in the Belly of the Whale, within the first 10%
Michelle (Michelle's Book Ends) Shealy
"When people around me are getting sick, my nose itches, or I start sneezing, or my body reacts in some bizarre way. It's not a gift or a power in my opinion, because it doesn't do anything for anybody. I can warn people to dive into the orange juice, I guess, but aren't you supposed to drink that stuff a lot anyway? Some help I am."......

Meet Harper Southwood. She’s a teenager with all the fears and hopes of a young girl. She has an uncanny ability to feel when others are getting sick. Of cours
Benni Taylor
Jan 27, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: ebooks, arc
Review also posted on my blog:

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley. This book has content warnings for child sexual assault/rape, self harm, attempted suicide, body shaming, cat dissection, and hospitals.

Unfortunately, this book was not only incredibly poorly-written, but it was also extremely harmful in multiple areas. To start with the writing: this book was all over the place tonally. It dealt with some very dark topics in a rather carefr
Jul 09, 2018 rated it liked it
A teenager with a special ability to sense impending sickness finds herself facing not one but two major life challenges with the people closest to her. As she tries to navigate her fear and events that change without warning, she discovers her own resourcefulness as well as a new appreciation for her family. Author Kelly Kay Bowles gives readers a fairly likeable protagonist in the somewhat entertaining but ultimately unbalanced novel Down in the Belly of the Whale.

High school sophomore Harper
Sreya Van
Dec 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
~I received a free copy of this book from Aionios Books through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review~

This book touched me in ways that I wasn't expecting at all. The writing itself is quite simplistic but the story it tells packs a punch. With the two main plot points occurring throughout the book, I expected it to be confusing or hard to keep track of, but it was quite the opposite actually. The two main conflicts weren't distractions to each other but merely added an extra element into
Dec 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
High schooler Harper Southwood can sense impending illness in the people around her, but she finds her insightful ability more frustrating than useful. It’s just one more source of uncertainty for this self-described troll as she struggles to make sense of adolescence. Meanwhile, her best friend, Cora, is so weighted down with childhood trauma that she has become seriously depressed. And Harper’s mother is suffering mysterious symptoms that will lead to a frightening diagnosis. Then, just as her ...more
Victor Catano
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Powerful and empathetic

Right after I started a new job at a new university, one of the students in my department committed suicide.

It was a shock to everyone. He was well liked and popular. He was a talented student, with many friends. What on earth could have made him do this? Emotions ran from sadness to grief to anger to helplessness, and in the end there were no easy answers that could possible satisfy the many people he left behind.

Kelley Kaye Bowles has created an incredible portrait o
Dec 03, 2017 rated it liked it
I want to thank the publisher and netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Down in the Belly of the Whale is an engaging story about one girl's strange abilities and the struggles she faces while feeling like an outsider. I really enjoyed this novel and even read it in just one sitting.

Harper is a teenager and (like a lot of other girls her age) feels completely out of place. Apart from the fact that she does not feel too comfortable in her own body,
Dec 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have to admit, Down in the Belly of the Whale is not my usual read. But Kelley’s storytelling quickly engages the reader and her characters are well developed enough that I could relate to them even though I have never been a teenage girl. The plot—revolving around the kinds of tragic occurrences that, unfortunately, we read about on an all-too-regular basis these days—feels real and relatable. Watching Harper Southwood tackle her insecurities and issues common to almost everyone who ever atte ...more
Wren (fablesandwren)
Jan 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: not-shelved, 02-stars
Thank you to the publisher for a review copy of this book. All the words below are my own opinions and thoughts

This was a very interesting read. There are a lot of issues thrown into this little book. I am going to keep my review short

Harper and Cora both are dealing with separate things and have a lot of growth through the book. Sexual Assault and Illness are the big contenders. I do feel as if this book had a lot of things thrown into it, so not all the pieces could be discussed and digested
Mia (A Happy Little Bookworm)
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: younger teens
Link to my blog post: https://ahappylittlebookworm.wordpres...

Down in the Belly of the Whale started off well, the characters were surprisingly complex and plot was fresh and original. While the narration was a little more immature than I'd hoped, I was kept engaged by the short, sharp chapters and steady action.

Just over half way into the story, however, my attention began to dwindle and I felt that the story could no longer hold my attention as well as it had at the start. It felt like the who
Apr 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
I got a copy from NetGalley and Aionios Books, I am very grateful but please know that all opinions are my own.

“Harper Southwood is a teenage girl who can sense when people will get sick—but so what? She can’t predict her best friend’s depression or her mother’s impending health crisis. Being helpful is all Harper ever wanted, but she feels helpless in the face of real adversity. Now, she’s got a chance to summon her courage and use her wits to fight for justice. Laugh and cry along with this ir
Nov 26, 2017 rated it liked it
I received an ARC of this book from in exchange for my honest review.
“Down in the Belly Of The Whale” by Kelley Kaye Bowels is about a teenager who doesn’t fit in and finds that she was so concerned with her own life she didn’t see that her only friend was suffering from depression and her mother was battling an illness.
The main character finds that she is only focused on her own life and is missing signs from those she loves that need help. However, once she realizes she is doin
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Thanks so much for getting me out of this horrible reading slump! I enjoyed reading this book, I could relate to some of the characters in a way. Somehow, I wish this book would have been more keen on the idea of the unknown powers of the main character rather than the drama of other people. This book is displaying society issues, and in this way the plot line seemed to get carried away from what I thought would be the main focus on this book, Harper's unusual "gift". But at the end of the book, ...more
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Death by Diploma (Chalkboard Outlines, #1)
  • The Return of Nathan Brazil (Saga of the Well World, #4)
  • Love Letters Home: Love in a Time of War • 1942-1945
  • Echoes of the Well of Souls (Watchers at the Well, #1)
  • A Life for a Life
  • The Rules of Action (The Devlin Legal Chronicles Book 1)
  • Exiles at the Well of Souls (Saga of the Well World, #2)
  • All the Lovely Children
  • Purses and Poison (Haley Randolph, #2)
  • Before You Leap
  • Tide and Punishment (Seaside Café Mystery, #3)
  • The Vanishing Man (Charles Lenox Mysteries #0.2)
  • Pumpkin Farmer
  • Telling Tails (Second Chance Cat Mystery, #4)
  • Moonlight City Drive: Part 1 in a Crime-Noir Detective Trilogy
  • Strange Stories II: The Empty Earth
  • Fire of Our Fathers (Heritage of Liberty #1)
  • Alien in the House (Katherine "Kitty" Katt, #7)
See similar books…

Related Articles

Oh hey, we're nearly halfway through 2021! We can't really believe it either... Traditionally, this is the time when the Goodreads editorial...
32 likes · 4 comments