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Shape of Water Paperback – April 8, 2008


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 860L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 305 pages
  • Publisher: Flux (April 8, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738711012
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738711010
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,140,132 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7 Up—As 15-year-old Magdalena tries to cope with her mother's suicide, reality and fantasy clash until she accepts the truth of what really happened. The beach was their favorite place, and they often swam and explored together. Now, the girl's companions are a family of fish that live in her imagination. At first this device is somewhat off-putting, but as the pain surrounding her loss becomes apparent, it becomes more acceptable. Her father tries to help her recover from the trauma she has suffered even while he must also adjust to his own grief. Hannah, her aunt, helps with practical things at home. She seems like a strong, focused woman but her background unfolds in surprising ways. Magda's father eventually marries a widow who tries to deny the troubles of her teenage son until he winds up in the hospital after a suicide attempt. Gradually, Magda begins to come to terms with reality, and, as she does, the fish companions begin to disappear. Though at times confusing, this story is riveting, and Spollen's incredibly descriptive prose creates images as clear and alive as those of a master painter. It demonstrates the resilience of the human spirit and would be a fine companion to Alice Hoffman's Indigo (Scholastic, 2002), a brief tale of loss that also uses water as a healing device.—Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Anne Spollen is the mother of three children. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in numerous anthologies and journals and have been nominated for Pushcart prizes. The Shape of Water is her first novel for teenagers. It began as a short story in Orchid: a Literary Review. She lives in New York.

More About the Author

Anne Spollen has three kids, a bunch of cats and lives in Staten Island, New York, right near the ferry. Her short stories and poems have been published in many literary journals and two of them were nominated for Pushcart prizes.

Right now, she has just completed a middle grade novel and is working on a young adult story. She has a passion for children's and teen literature that keeps growing stronger the more she reads and writes it.

In between, she teaches some college classes and is doing writing she hopes teens will read, but the world will consider "adult" work. She is writing essays that explore the effect addiction has had on her family. You can read one here: http://www.brainchildmag.com/2014/03/family-portrait/

She has two novels out there right now: The Shape of Water and Light Beneath Ferns.

Anne loves to hear from her readers. You can reach her at her website: annespollen.org

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 10 customer reviews
It is one of the most beautiful pieces of literature I have ever read.
hanners snowflake
I read this book slowly because the writing was so fabulous, but during the day, I would think about it deeply, and really look forward to coming back.
AS King
Magda touched my heart in a way no other character in literature has ever done.
Vivienne Lossa

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By AS King on June 27, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book is exceptional. The prose is out of this world and the way Spollen handles her main character, Magda, is really effective. Not only do we get to follow Magda on her journey through the grief of losing her mother, and her father's new love interest, and his subsequent move away from their family home and their old family life, but we also follow, through the fish in her head, what her parents had been through before her mother's death. The layers here are deep. It's just really too amazing to summarize. I read this book slowly because the writing was so fabulous, but during the day, I would think about it deeply, and really look forward to coming back. I'd give it ten starts if I could.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By OneReader on April 14, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a book I read when I really didn't feel like reading. This girl, Magda, grew up on a beach and after her mother dies, she goes a little bit crazy. She starts setting fires in the woods around her house and these two fish move into her head (like they talk and have birthday parties and stuff). I didn't expect this book to be so good because I got it because I liked the title and the cover. I thought it would be ok, but when I started reading it, I couldn't stop. I didn't want to read it fast because I liked the way the story was written, and I really liked the girl in the story. She seems crazy,but it's like when you are reading it, you sort of get her craziness. I definitely recommend this for summer reading and for anyone who wants a really good story.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth on February 20, 2009
Format: Paperback
Some of the most amazing imagery I've ever run across in anything; it had me hooked from the first paragraph. Ms. Spollen takes concepts I was only vaguely aware of before(different qualities of silence, the subtleties of water and atmosphere) and has painted them so vividly that, after reading the book, I found myself looking at things in entirely new ways. It felt like growing up speaking a language with words for only "light" and "dark", and then having someone introduce the colors to me. The actual plot is a fairly simple one, and it feels almost incidental; the real story is the heroine (Magda, Maggie, Lena, Magdalena; depends on who's talking to her) learning how to deal with her far-from-normal (??) mind, and how to live in a normal world in spite of herself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on September 11, 2009
Format: Paperback
Magda's life is slowly bursting into flames, as it changes for the worst. The ones most important to her are departing from her life.

First it's her mother who passes away. Then it's her best friend, Julia, who moves away, and then her father is slowly becoming disconnected as he tries to move on. For Magda it is just too soon, but her father has quickly found someone else to fill her mother's shoes.

The only thing Magda finds solace in is by setting fires in the woods right next to her home. This action is the introduction for the reader to decide whether Magda has become unstable. We must further question her sanity as the appearances of two fish, who converse in Magda's head, are made throughout the story.

Can Magda overcome all of these tragedies, find her identity, and discover the secrets she's been looking for? Or will it all just push her over the edge?

Right off the bat, THE SHAPE OF WATER looks like your typical novel where the main character is hit with numerous tragedies and must face her emotions and the future. However, Anne Spollen weaves an intricate and poetic novel that flows right from the very first word to the very last. Magda is a character full of many levels, and as the story progresses the reader is able to understand her actions and her thoughts.

What seems crazy at first becomes enticingly beautiful in the end. THE SHAPE OF WATER is a novel full of thought and sorrow that will take the reader on a journey that will leave a lasting impression.

Reviewed by: Randstostipher "tallnlankyrn" Nguyen
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Runa VINE VOICE on July 23, 2009
Format: Paperback
The Shape of Water was just a little difficult to get into--it opens with a huge chunk of descriptive babble that seems to make absolutely no sense. It took a while to understand what the book was about, and even now, it's a little hard to explain. The Shape of Water lacks a solid plot, everything about it, the wording and the structure, is fluid and always moving and changing. I really enjoyed the dialogue; it was highly realistic. I think the main character's need to set fires could and should have been explored in more depth, as it was pretty much the closest thing to a plot that the book had. It took a while to understand the Fishes, and like everything else in this book, I still don't think it's possible to fully understand, but everything gradually began coming together and making more sense. I found parts of the book intriguing (fortune teller), parts very predictable (sibling), but parts unexpected (Andrew). I'd like to talk about that last one a little more. I really liked that something Andrew was going through, something that would ordinarily separate people, brought them together in such a unique way. It's a strange book, not like anything else I've read, but I'm glad I did.

Rating: 4/5

"We're in the process of unknowing one another."
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