From School Library Journal
Gr 9-11-The premise of this book is that a magical fish impregnates a young woman, resulting in the birth of a half human/half sea creature. These fish, if eaten, can cure all kinds of diseases. Teeth rescues the fish he considers to be his brothers from fishermen's nets. When he is caught, he is beaten again and again, but always manages to escape. Rudy's family has moved to the island seeking a cure for his younger brother's cystic fibrosis. Rudy is so alone, restless, and bored that meeting Teeth results in an instant curiosity and connection. Diana, Teeth's sister, is lonely, too, and initiates contact with Rudy, apparently the only other teen on the island. This is a story of Rudy's path to identity and making choices in complicated circumstances. He loves his brother and is grateful when the fish help stem the disease but also understands Teeth's desire to rescue the fish from the nets. To allow Teeth to continue his mission will spell sickness for the islanders who have come to rely on the healing ability of the fish; to allow the fishermen to slowly beat Teeth to death is clearly wrong. In addition to these dilemmas, Rudy wonders about going to college and about how his family has changed since being on the island. This is an unusual story, narrated by Rudy, but his frequent use of obscenities seems unnecessary. In the end he finds a way to save Teeth, help his brother, and accept his place in life.-Joanne K. Cecere, Monroe-Woodbury High School, Central Valley, NYα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* Moskowitz’s best novel since Break (2009) is actually reminiscent of that (literally) smashing debut: both books feature a teen struggling to protect his sick brother, and both deal with the extreme limits of noble self-harm. Rudy, 16, and his family have moved to “a place for last resorts,” a remote island that is the home of the rare silver Enki fish, purported to have unsurpassed restorative powers—just what Rudy’s 5-year-old brother, Dylan, needs to stave off death from cystic fibrosis. It is within the frigid ocean waves that Rudy encounters Teeth, an ugly, foul-mouthed half boy, half fish who is perpetually bruised and bloody from violent late-night encounters with cruel fishermen. The two become friends, maybe even more, but Teeth considers the fish his siblings, and Rudy needs the fish to feed his brother. Therein lies the conflict: how much is one of them willing to give up for the other? Despite the fantastical elements, this reads as realistic, even gritty, drama, fueled by Moskowitz’s brand of stream-of-consciousness wonder, tumbling emotion, and dark undertones. Her handling of each characters’ sexuality is particularly impressive in its refusal to generalize or simplify. Moskowitz’s prose has always had charm; pair it with a great plot and this is what happens. Grades 9-12. --Daniel Kraus