Monday 19 October 2015

Silence is Goldfish by Annabel Pitcher

There must be a list on the Internet of what to buy when you're running away, but my phone is typically dead, like I swear it just passes out whenever things get stressful. It's unconscious in my pocket so I can't look up a list of essential items for life on the road, but a children's torch in the shape of a goldfish seems a very sensible choice. 

Published by Indigo in October 2015
Pages - 444

Tessie-T has never really felt she fitted in and after what she read that night on her father's blog she knows for certain that she never will. How she deals with her discovery makes an entirely riveting, heart-breaking story told through Tess's eyes as she tries to find her place in the world.
Reviewed by Vivienne Dacosta

Annabel Pitcher is one of my favourite UK authors.  I'm never disappointed by her novels. I love the way she writes; her characters are real heart tuggers, always making you want to mother them.  Her stories always make you think after you finish reading them.

Silence Is Goldish sounds like a bizarre title until you realise that a child's toy goldfish light features heavily throughout the book. The Goldfish gives Tess a voice when she feels she doesn't have one. 
Tess develops selective mutism after her solid family foundations are rocked, by the discovery that her dad isn't her biological father. As if that isn't enough to deal with, she also discovers his true feelings towards her after her birth.  Tess feels such immense fury that she bottles up her words and doesn't speak another. The book follows Tess's silence as she strives to find her real father, hoping that he will differently towards her.
I was concerned how the story would develop, especially with the main character choosing to be mute. By telling the story in first person, and showing the constant conversation in Tess's mind with the goldfish light, the author created a believable scenario.  It gave the reader an accurate picture of how Tess felt in each situation, even though she couldn't communicate it to the other characters. 
This book is a really sad tale to read. Tess's parents struggle to deal with her selective mutism, swinging between anger and defeat like a pendulum. By staying silent, Tess creates a strong presence that affects everyone around her. Some fear her silence, while others use it for their own advantage.
I really didn't like Tess's Dad. He came across as  a self centred twat. Life in their house seemed to be determined by his rules and they were unrealistic. Luckily as the book progressed, he started to realise he wasn't perfect. 
Tess is also difficult to love, but then she represents a real teenager. She has the typical moods and bad habits of a teen, even though she sometimes shows a naivety for her age. Her naivety made the book feel more  Upper Middle Grade to me, than YA.  As the book progresses, you watch her mature as she realises what is really going on around her. She finally takes a stand against the people who hurt her. 
I thought the ending was brilliant. I am so pleased everything worked out the way it did in the end. 
Another brilliant and thought provoking read from a stalwart of children's fiction. 

1 comment:

  1. There's something kinda raw about this book and (as an adult) that's something which really struck me. It touches on a lot of themes—everything from families and relationships, to trust, self-esteem and mental health. Author Annabel Pitcher doesn't pull any punches. The behavior of teens and adults are bared in all of their vicious glory.


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