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Reading Between Classes

A unique perspective on YA Literature from a junior high teacher. 

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Teeth - Hannah Moskowitz Cover Impressions: I really like the cover of this one. I received an EARC, but I really wish I could see the physical copy. I am rooting for shiny and textured scales. The Gist: Rudy's brother suffers from Cystic Fibrosis. In an attempt to save his life, the family moves to a remote island that is famed for a special type of fish that can heal and prolong life. Without the excitement of friends and frivolity, Rudy finds himself longing for a companion - and then he finds Teeth, and begins to discover the dark secrets of the island and its inhabitants.Review: I requested Teeth because I had heard great things about Gone Gone Gone and it has been sitting on my TBR pile for quiet a while. Those who love Hannah Moskowitz seem to RAVE about her. However, if Teeth is indicative of her writing style, perhaps I best stay away. I loved the premise for Teeth. The mysterious island with magic fish that could heal and prolong life in otherwise terminal cases, was fascinating. I longed to find out what made the fish so special and what secrets were being hidden by the inhabitants of the island. Unfortunately, much like Rudy, once I began to receive my answers, I wished I had never asked the questions. The setting was interesting, the morality issue that made up much of the first half of the book was thought- provoking. Had the novel continued in this frame of mind, I would have been left much more satisified.To be honest, I am finding it difficult to write about what bothered me, and that is a testament to how much it bothered me. Teeth involves numerous incidences of rape. We see both a woman raped by a fish, and a mermaid/fishboy raped by men - over and over again. Once this plot point was revealed, I could no longer enjoy the story. Even now, it leaves a sick taste in my mouth to recall the details. Moskowitz is certainly a writer who can evoke strong emotions in the reader. She is skilled at writing in a way that is raw and heart-wrenching. I do believe that most readers will recognize the beauty that can be found in this story. Teeth is well written, and I can recognize the genius in it - I just didn't like it. I felt like I was watching a car crash - I knew that continuing would result in seeing things that I could never forget but I just could not look away. In the end, I could not get past the pain. I ached for Teeth. I wanted so badly to rescue him and by the last page, I was left feeling sad and empty. Due to the nature of the rape in this book, as well as the frequent swearing, I would not recommend it for my teenage students.Teaching/Parental Notes:Age: AT LEAST 16 and upGender: BothSex: Kissing, talk of masturbationViolence: Rape, Physical fighting/abuse, gunplay, murderInappropriate Language: LOTS! Fuck, Shit, Slut, Bastard, Bitch, AssholeSubstance Use/Abuse: Smoking