I am having a really hard time trying to sort out my feelings about this book. The story was beautiful and terrible at the same time - I both loved and hated it in equal measure. Since I finished reading Teeth it has continued to plague my thoughts. I can honestly say it is one of the most hard-hitting, emotional stories I have ever read. It is just really that good.
Teeth is the story of a sixteen year old boy called Rudy who has recently moved to a secret, secluded Island with his parents and younger brother Dylan. Dylan is very sick - he has cystic fibrosis - and Rudy's family have moved to this particular Island due to the magical healing properties of the fish that can only be found in the waters surrounding the Island's shores. The Island has other inhabitants, those who have been struck with various illnesses that modern medicine cannot cure, and their families. There are also the crude, course fishermen who are responsible for keeping the inhabitants supplied with this magical bounty.
However, Rudy has no one his own age to converse with and he is desperately lonely. This all changes when he comes across the fishboy. At first Rudy cannot believe his eyes, surely a creature such as this, half boy and half fish, could not possibly exist. However, one night Rudy comes across one of the fisherman attacking the fishboy and he cannot help but step in and save him. Teeth, the fishboy in question, is a character like no other. He curses like a sailor and has a somewhat limited vocabulary. He is also described by Rudy as being one of the ugliest beings he has ever seen. Nevertheless, Rudy is fascinated by Teeth and the pair of the form an unlikely friendship but it is not without its share of friction as Teeth sees the fish that the Islanders consume as his family and is always trying to come up with new ways to save them from the fishermen's nets. Their relationship is also further complicated by Diana, a girl Rudy's age, who lives with her hermit mother and who rarely leaves her house. There is a connection between Diana and Teeth which is not clear at first but as Rudy digs deeper into the past he uncovers secrets that explain the history between these characters.
It is not long before Teeth has roped Rudy into helping him with his schemes but it soon becomes apparent that these actions have negative consequences. You see eating the fish does help those who are sick but they have to continue to eat them, if they stop they become as sick as they were before, perhaps even worse. Rudy is torn between his love for his little brother and the desire to protect and help him at all costs, and his growing attachment to Teeth and his plight. Rudy must decide what is more important to him as either way he will lose a piece of his heart forever.
I absolutely adored Rudy and Teeth, though both were very difficult protagonists. Rudy comes across at first as a broody, somewhat petulant teenager, but by the end of the book he had won me over. Teeth I loved from the very first introduction. I have never come across a character in literature quite like Teeth - he completely stole my heart and shattered it into teeny, tiny little pieces. I was profoundly saddened by his history and the abuses he has suffered. The bond that grows between Teeth and Rudy is both touching and painful. They have a powerfully strong connection, which is romantic without ever developing into a full romance. The nature of their attachment is very subtly drawn, making the reader is aware of its presence but it never takes over the narrative.
I debated for ages about what to say in this review and how to go about rating Teeth. There was just so much I wanted to say but to be honest I don't think I would be able to truly do it justice. I think a book that elicits so many conflicting emotions in me is thoroughly deserving of a five star rating but even that feels insufficient. Suffice it to say, this book has made me a huge fan of Hannah Moskowitz and I cannot wait to read the rest of her books.