Teeth (Goodreads | Amazon) is my first Hannah Moskowitz. You always remember you first, right? If so, Teeth was an exceptional choice. For me this book just worked. It's a simply and sparse, yet beautiful book, the story of an island that could exist, just maybe. To me that's magical realism at it's best, a place that is our world but not quite. Or is it our world? Could it actually exist?
Rudy's life changes when his family moves to this strange island. Even to him, it sounds ridiculous, an island with magical fish that heals whatever ails you. But his little brother has very serious cystic fibrosis and they're out of options. What they need is a miracle, even a miracle as ridiculous as a magical fish on a strange isolated island.
As the only teenager on the island, Rudy feels isolated. He misses home, misses his friends, misses having a life then feels guilty for missing all those things because against all odds, his brother is getting better. He's torn between loving this fragile little thing that is his brother and wanting a life of his own, a real life.
In the same day Rudy meets two people his age. Diana, the only other teenager on the island locked away in her mother's house, and Teeth. His relationship with Diana and Teeth could not be more different, with Diana they become friends almost by default, whereas Teeth draws him in. The thing about Teeth is, he's not quite human, not quite fish but somewhere in between. Rudy sees himself in this scared, lonely and confused boy, and despite his better judgement he can't quit seeing Teeth despite the danger.
Teeth makes Rudy think about life and what's important. He finds himself thinking about all the deep shit because he's suddenly faced with a world that's so much more complicated than he ever imagined.
"He shakes his head. "They're hunting the Enkis. I know that. And I get that. But . . . we're special."
"The reason they want them is because they're special. Anchovies aren't going to cure anyone."
"That's not the special I mean." He catches another fish and hugs it to his chest. I'm trying to be gentle. "They're only special to you because they're yours." "I could say the same thing about that cute kid you were holding."
The beauty of the prose is not that it's complex or prettied up. Instead it's simple, and just reeks of authenticity. Moskowitz writes what needs saying with as words few possible, never adding unnecessary flair and letting the power of the characters and realism of the words, even on this fantastical magical island, speak for themselves.
Very rarely does a book sweep me off my feet like Teeth did. After reading this novel I felt ready to burst, I was so filled up with the story and emotions that it seemed a pity that the book must end and real life must begin.