Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz

Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz © 2012, Simon Pulse

Teeth would probably be considered a YA novel, but could be enjoyed by any age.  The story cannot be easily encapsulated, which is a good thing in this case.  I think it is a tale about learning to accept what you cannot change.

Rudy, a teenage boy, is transplanted to a small island by his family, the move necessary for the health of Rudy’s ailing little brother, Dylan.  Rudy’s loneliness is tempered by a neighbor girl, Diana, and her brother, Teeth, who happens to be half-boy half-fish—a merman, if you will, and a creature of island legend.  Teeth becomes Rudy’s new best friend and also his antagonist by putting Rudy at odds with the needs of ailing Dylan.  Rudy is ultimately faced with whether he can separate himself from Teeth, which seems to be a metaphor for letting go of his own sense of deprivation.

Moskowitz set up an intriguing world, here, which felt much like the normal world, yet askew with sea monsters and magic fish.  Teeth is alternately selfish, tragic, and heroic, which parallels Rudy, only to a greater extreme.  Many of the events in the story seem symbolic, but of what, I was never entirely sure, and I liked it that way.  It kept me thinking outside the story while I was engaged with what was happening on the page.

My only criticism is that Moskowitz struggled giving Rudy and Teeth the tone of a teenage boys.  Their interactions often felt feminine.  But that didn’t detract too much from an otherwise enjoyably weird tale.

Teeth can take a bite out of my book shelf.

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