Silence is Goldfish
by Annabel Pitcher
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 17, 2016
My name is Tess Turner--at least, that's what I've always been told.
I have a voice but it isn't mine. It used to say things so I'd fit in, to please my parents, to please my teachers. It used to tell the universe I was something I wasn't. It lied.
It never occurred to me that everyone else was lying too.
Fifteen-year-old Tess doesn't mean to become mute. When she discovers that her dad isn't her biological father, at first she's just too shocked to speak. But quickly she begins to see the benefit of silence. She can protect herself from the questions she's too afraid to ask. It frustrates the heck out of her parents. And it also gets the attention of her handsome Math teacher, Mr Holdsworth...
Tess sets out to discover the identity of her real father. But when trouble strikes and everything spirals out of control, how can she ask for help when she's forgotten how to use her voice?
Every now and again I read a book that even when I don't relate fully with the main character, I end up completely immersed in the story and unable to think of anything else. THIS is one of those books. I had previously read (and loved) Ketchup Clouds, so I was super excited to read more from Annabel Pitcher. And now that I have, I will probably be reading everything she writes, forever ever.
The best thing about her books are that they are so full of emotion. She could be writing about something I really wouldn't even find sad normally, but her words somehow make my heart ache while reading about it. That's talent my friends.
So Tess..... she's not talking. And it's not because she can't. I thought this was going to be a book about a girl that could not speak, not that she would not speak. I guess it could be the same thing-- experiencing a traumatic event that leaves you feeling like you can't speak. Tess knows she can speak though, she just won't. I'm not sure exactly if I was down with all the specifics of that, but I was able to overlook it because the story and characters were so strong.
Tess's silence costs her her best (and only) friend. Their separation is what really hurt my heart the most. I loved reading about Tess and Isabel in their better times because they were truly soulmate-type friends-- Tess always says they were symbiotic creatures. It made me wish I had an Isabel of my own :( All the characters around Tess were truly developed. They were real people with good points and flaws.... even the villain of this book had vulnerability. I can't say enough about the range of the people in this book.
Why Should You Read This Book? It's about family stuff, but it's SO much more than that. The issue that starts the mutism isn't the biggest/toughest issue I've ever read about, but there are so many other stories involved besides this main issue. There's bullying and body issue stuff-- plus the girl talks to a plastic key chain for much of the book. Where else are you going to read something like that and it makes sense? I actually started viewing Mr. Goldfish as a real live character in this book. It was odd.
OVERALL: Another YES for Annabel Pitcher!! I loved this story about a girl going through a tough moment in her life. I know it's classified as YA, but I would totally put this in an in-between MG and YA category. It is definitely do-able for both age groups.
Annabel Pitcher studied English at Oxford and has since worked as a script writer and an English teacher. She lives in Yorkshire with her husband. MY SISTER LIVES ON THE MANTELPIECE was her first novel. She is a full-time writer.
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