Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz
My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Magic Realism
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: January 1st 2013
Synopsis: A gritty, romantic modern fairy tale from the author of Break and Gone, Gone, Gone.
Be careful what you believe in.
Rudy’s life is flipped upside-down when his family moves to a remote island in a last attempt to save his sick younger brother. With nothing to do but worry, Rudy sinks deeper and deeper into loneliness and lies awake at night listening to the screams of the ocean beneath his family’s rickety house.
Then he meets Diana, who makes him wonder what he even knows about love, and Teeth, who makes him question what he knows about anything. Rudy can’t remember the last time he felt so connected to someone, but being friends with Teeth is more than a little bit complicated. He soon learns that Teeth has terrible secrets. Violent secrets. Secrets that will force Rudy to choose between his own happiness and his brother’s life.
Teeth is a novel that lingers in one’s mind. A novel with sincere emotion that will grip your heart and never let go. This makes is a very brutal read. It made my heart feel heavy with sadness and longing. I wouldn’t call this a romantic story like the synopsis says but I would call it a gritty story that is filled with emotion and memorable characters.
Teeth is a story about a lonely boy’s discovery of a lonely fishboy on a remote island that is rumored to be the place where life-giving fish lurk. At first the boy (called Rudy) is happy to have a strange friend to spend the days with. But then Rudy starts to learn secrets. And with those secrets come choices.
The atmosphere of Teeth is quite gothic and dreary. With screaming winds and mysterious fish, this novel establishes a beautiful yet eerie feel almost immediately. I often had to tear my eyes away from the pages and look around my room to make sure that I was safe in my cozy home. The great world building of the remote island that is home to the Enki only adds to the atmosphere.
Moskowitz has a talent for characters, I believe. They are depressing, sad, flawed, and filled with inner darkness. She made me feel a lot of empathy for both Rudy and Teeth. These two characters are layered with many layers.
Rudy was a very authentic male character. His narrative is riddled with many curse words, but I could clearly feel his emotions and conflict over his family and friendship with Teeth. He is a very flawed character. He lets his loneliness rule his decisions which often leads him to making the wrong choice. He does grow as a person (and as a brother and as a friend) and starts making decisions that might be hard but are the best. He felt truly tangible to me and I won’t forget about him for a long time.
Teeth is the title character of this story. He is the lonely creature that is half-human and half-fish. I don’t remember ever feeling this sad for a character. Teeth’s entire existance is just sad. I cried buckets of tears because of him. Teeth can be an asshole (Rudy’s words not mine) and unreasonable and impulsive, but behind all that he is just a scared, lonely fishboy. I wanted to take his hand and lead him somewhere safe where he can be happy. Teeth will be forever swimming in the depth of my mind.
Moskowitz’s prose is raw. The writing captures the utter gloominess and sadness of this novel perfectly. It isn’t flowery but it is beautiful and clear. I savored each and every of Moskowitz’s words. I even reread passages when I finished the novel.
The ending was agonizing to my poor heart. I don’t think I have ever felt so…empty over an ending. I felt like a rain that will never stop was pouring over the earth.
I believe that Teeth is a special novel. The kind of special that only rarely comes into the world. Does that sound over dramatic? Maybe. But this is how I truly feel about this book. Now please just go read this book so you can experience the ugly beauty of it yourself. Don’t let your fear of the strangeness this novel has keep you away from it. I doubt you will regret it.