Author: Hannah Moskowitz
Published: January 1st 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Hardcover, 288 pages
Buy: The Book Depository
With Teeth, you have two choices: you can either read it, or someone can hit you over the head with it. The result will be the same: you will end up bewildered and wincing in pain.
Rudy’s family just moved to a remote island, hoping the magic fish Enki would cure his little brother of cystic fibrosis. As much as he loves his brother Dylan, Rudy is desperately lonely and bored out of his mind – until he meets Teeth, half-human-half-fish boy with whom he starts a tentative friendship.
This fishboy, Teeth, is not some gorgeous, misunderstood hero. He is monstrous, the ugliest creature Rudy has ever seen, with a mouth full of needle-sharp teeth and a torso covered in nasty scales. He is also insufferable, bratty, stubborn and unreasonable, but over time, he becomes loyal to Rudy, or as loyal as a fishboy can ever be. To Rudy, he is interesting and exotic, but it’s the feeling of loneliness that keeps them together.
His tail is skinny and silver, the same color as Dylan’s fish. All of his scales, especially the ones on his chest, look dry, like they’re about to flake off. His hair is short and uneven. Mermaids in fairy tales were never this ugly. Mermen.
I find it interesting that Moskowitz always manages to work in a mention of the book or author that influenced her. In Invincible Summer, all the characters are quoting Camus and the book itself is influenced by Camus’ existential prose. In Teeth, which is so obviously kafkaesque, Rudy and his friend Diana read and discuss The Metamorphosis. With this, she robs her readers of the chance to recognize these connections and influences for themselves.
There are so many parallels between Teeth and The Metamorphosis that I can’t even begin to count them – from the way people treat (or rather ignore) Teeth, to the grotesque wounds on his body. (Remember Gregor Samsa’s apple?). Even the two fishermen are a metaphor for the government – no one but them knows the right bait for Enki, which makes them the only ones with any kind of power on an otherwise lawless island. Their conflict with Teeth makes the metaphor even stronger. He is the Gregor Samsa of this story, and they are the powers that be that beat him and abuse him in every possible way, while the rest of the world completely ignores his existence
Moskowitz’s writing style has developed into this amazing, quirky thing, with sentences that surprise a laugh out of you not only because they’re funny, but because of how they’re constructed. She has a way of making these sentences seem like a natural thought process of her main character, an ability that gave Rudy a very authentic voice. Even with all the layers and metaphors and connections with Kafka, what truly kept me reading was this lost and lonely teenage boy and his complicated feelings towards his family.
My parents keep him cooped up because they’re afraid that someone will cough on him, but I do it because not everyone is as receptive to endless talk about octopuses and body fluids as we are, you weird kid, come curl up and tell me and leave the normal people out of it.
I’m still convinced that Gone, Gone, Gone is Hannah Moskowtz’s best work because it stemmed from her own experience and not her obsession with another writer. I really hope she’ll go back to relying on herself with her next project. That’s when she truly shines.