Over this summer, during the week of my birthday, I got a visit from one of my very best friends in the world. This friend had Recommended A Book long ages ago, and just prior to this visit, I had ordered the book. During the visit, I read the book. I'm very glad, but also a little unhappy, because ouch.
Teeth has teeth. Teeth in its prose, in its characterization, in its plot twists, in the way it bites your heart in half. It's that kind of book.
I can't figure out where to start. What about the characters? The characters who are desperately real, even though Mostkowitz's prose is that kind of pseudo magical realism that I tend to despise? They all have their own voices, their own stories, their own struggles, their own way of hurting you. Rudy? I frickin' loved the kid. Teeth? Let me take him home and care for him and help him. Diana? What a fascinating girl; I wish she'd had more page time, maybe her own novel. Rudy's relationship with his family is so important to the novel, too; it's not as important as that between Rudy and Teeth, but it's never shoved to the side. It's part of the situation and part of the conflict, and it's done incredibly.
The concept is as mythical as this gray, windy, stormy novel deserves. An island full of fish that magically make a sick person better? Well, why the heck not? Teeth isn't marketed as a modern-day fairytale, but it should be, because that's exactly the vibe that I get. A bloody, mature fairytale. (Could you find this in the YA section? Beware, because language and themes of sexual abuse abound.) A quasi-love story, the magic of the earth and of love. I'm speaking in metaphors because it's hard to talk about this book straight (haha) - it just sort of slips out of your hands. Like a little silver fish.
As much as her characters hurt me, I think it's Moskowitz's atmosphere that sticks with me most. How she maintains this consistency with the feeling of the island - the wind, the gray, the clouds, the thunderous ocean, the rocks, the sea spray, the cold sand, the dark, the damp - it's beautiful in a brutal way, and it's impossible not to remember it and to feel it. The screaming that she describes... haunting. Haunting, that's the right word.
Can you handle swearing and more mature subject content in your mermaid tales? Please read Teeth. It's worth the bite.