Saturday, March 21, 2015

Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz

Rudy and his family live on a remote, sparsely populated island so that his younger brother Dylan, who suffers from cystic fibrosis, can eat a rare fish called the Enki. The Enki are said to have magical powers, particularly in terms of improving one’s health. Rudy and his family are not the only people who have come to the island for this reason. Many other severely ill people have come with the hope of becoming better from the fish’s restorative powers.

An island inhabited mostly by old, sick people is not exactly what Rudy was hoping for in his teenage years, but he knows that the fish are important for his brother’s health. Rudy eventually meets a girl his age named Diana who spends most of her time sitting inside and reading. Rudy finds her odd as most everything she knows seems to come from reading and not from interacting with people. Even odder is Teeth who is a merman, or fishboy as Rudy likes to call him. Rudy ends up forming a sort of friendship with this half fish/half boy and even spends some time hanging out in the ocean with the creature. Yes, this is not one of those books where I spent my time thinking “I’ve read something like this dozens of times before.” I also wondered if some of the strange things in Teeth were even real.

Rudy’s conflicted loyalties between his family, Diana, and Teeth turn the book into not just a quirky read but a book with substance. Teeth also brings up some good points about the needs of people versus their impact on the environment. If the originality in Teeth is any indication, Hannah Moskowitz is an author to keep an eye on.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

I'll Give You the Sun is the story of twins Noah and Jude. Half of the story is told from Noah's perspective when the twins are 13 and the other half is told from Jude's perspective at 16. In alternating sections the reader learns how Noah and Jude went from inseparable to not speaking. The book opens with Noah's story, and he is 13 and artistically gifted, but socially awkward and falling in love with the boy next door (while trying not to let anyone know he is). Jude on the other hand is able to talk enough for both of them and seems to be the girl all the boys are interested in. However, when Jude's story starts at 16 she has become socially closed off and is on a self prescribed boy boycott and Noah  has transformed into a jock. While each of their stories are interesting it is the mystery of what happened to cause such a shift, the lies that were told to both hurt and protect each other, is what really kept me turning the pages (especially as the boiling point nears). Full of artistic imagery ("Jude bars bright blue fluorescent barf all over the table, but I'm the only who notices"(p13)), Nelson tells a thoughtful story about family, secrets and lies, betrayal, and love.