Release Date: January 1 2013
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 easily one of the most emotional books I’ve ever read. And in such a small package. Although to be fair sometimes the smallest books pack the biggest punch. (Think Boy Meets Boy). It touches on some very real and very poignant issues and I just can’t stop thinking about it.
Right off the bat you’re introduced to Rudy’s little brother who is dying of cystic fibrosis. I don’t know that much about cystic fibrosis but I do know it’s incredibly painful and that watching your child suffer through it would be devastating. But knowing it and seeing it happen in such vivid detail are completely different beasts. This disease is the catalyst for the family’s move the island and thus it’s at the centre of everything they think about and every action they take. It was absolutely tragic to see this illness tear the family apart.
And then there’s the rape. It doesn’t happen on page but it’s no less traumatizing because of it. What Teeth goes through is despicable. It doesn’t matter that he’s half fish, half human. It’s just so wrong and his response to what’s going on is so…human. The whole thing just provoked so much anger in me. I wanted to fight for him, I wanted to scream into a pillow just to feel a little less frustrated with what’s going on.
There are a wealth of other issues as well. There is the constant debate over who’s life is more valuable/important. The humans who come to the island to survive or the fish who are eaten for their healing powers. As someone who’s been a vegetarian for a long time and is considering veganism I felt like this dialogue hit especially hard. Teeth also explores questions of sexual identity. Particularly bisexuality – which isn’t something you seen enough in literature. Let alone YA literature.
Hannah Moskowitz writes beautifully. Throughout the book she describes the sounds of screaming on the rocks. It was so haunting. Teeth is a tragically gorgeous book and so full of hope. The influence of this story was totally unexpected but incredibly profound.
Recommendation: If you’re someone who can suspend your disbelief and wants to be absorbed in a truly beautiful and thought provoking story then Teeth is absolutely the book for you.
About the Author
Hannah Moskowitz wrote her first story, about a kitten named Lilly on the run from cat hunters, for a contest when she was seven years old. She was disqualified for violence. Her first book, BREAK, was on the ALA’s 2010 list of Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults. She is a student at The University of Maryland.