If you know me as a writer, you know I’m a fan of all things shape shifters, intense relationships, and conflict, conflict, conflict. My first book club recommendation has all of these things at large, which is probably why I finished it in three hours when I should have been cleaning my apartment. Who needs clean laundry when you can have Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz?
Rudy is the main character in this novel, published just this year. Rudy is forced to move to a shadowy, remote island after his little brother is diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. The island has healing properties, and by properties I mean fish. Magic fish. The cystic fibrosis, cancer, depression curing kind. Fisherman bring them in by the hundreds, but only when merman Teeth can’t free them first. Part boy, part fish, part tortured soul, Teeth and Rudy forge a bond through desperation, and Teeth forces Rudy to choose between his brother’s life and loving a boy with fins.
Moskowitz’s Teeth paints a picture of mermaids not commonly seen in the YA genre. They’re not jewel toned, long haired beauties who sit on rocks and comb their hair with forks. Moskowitz’s merman as a character is jagged in appearance and mind, hateful, and complex. It takes all of Rudy’s heart to unearth the humanity in Teeth, and in doing so he discovers more about himself than he imagined.
The characterization in this read is unmatched in depth. Her deft mix of sarcasm, flip, and intensity had me hooked (pun intended) from the start. The relationships sink deep and stuck with me long after I read the last word. Teeth is the perfect mix of heartbreaking, beautiful, gritty, and dark to make you yearn for more time with the boys and their fish.