Book Review: Silence is Goldfish (Annabel Pitcher)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Orion Children’s Books

Pages: 384

Release Date: September 8th 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

My name is Tess Turner – at least, that’s what I’ve always been told.

I have a voice but it isn’t mine. It used to say things so I’d fit in, to please my parents, to please my teachers. It used to tell the universe I was something I wasn’t. It lied.

It never occurred to me that everyone else was lying too. But the words that really hurt weren’t the lies: it was six hundred and seventeen words of truth that turned my world upside down.

Words scare me, the lies and the truth, so I decided to stop using them.

I am Pluto. Silent. Inaccessible. Billions of miles away from everything I thought I knew.

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.

Review:

I read a sampler of this a while back and was really intrigued to read more and I’ve finally gotten round to it.

Tess reads something terrible on her dad’s laptop that blows her whole world apart. After an unsuccessful attempt at running away, Tess stops talking to everyone, except Mr Goldfish, a torch she bought when running away, who talks back to her in her head.

I remember loving the goldfish torch when I read the sampler because I had one when I was a kid and I can still picture it so clearly. I wish mine had been able to speak to me too, though I guess the circumstances for poor Tess meant it wasn’t as cool as it sounds.

Tess has a really distinctive voice which at times I loved, and at other times it grated on me. She has a tendency to babble and sometimes I had to read sentences a couple of times to make sense of them. I found it hard to connect with how she reacted to what she’d read on her dad’s laptop. Obviously I’ve not been in the situation, but the way she fixated on different people as potential father figures seemed a bit extreme to me: I think I wanted her to be more realistic about things but I guess if you’re that shocked and hurt then you cling to anything.

My favourite character by far was Jack, Tess’s dad. He’s an out of work actor who talks constantly about ‘taking the road less travelled’, which is what he wants Tess to do, while also taking the travelled road and fitting in and doing well at school. For the type of person she is, I can imagine it being hard to live up to his expectations. I just loved his bare face lying when other people asked how his career is going. I know the feeling, putting on a good face in front of people who are judgy about your choices, and I love how brazen he was about it.

Tess’s conversations with Mr Goldfish were both funny and very revealing about herself and her situation. I remember vowing not to talk when I was a teenager and it would never last more than a day because I’m a coward and when my mum asks me a question, I answer! Her mutism as a form of protest to what she read is really interesting and not something I’ve read about before.

While I struggled to sort through Tess’s stream of consciousness narration sometimes, I really enjoyed this book and was glad it had a well tied off ending that made me smile. I know my youngest sister is a fan of Pitcher’s other books so I may have to borrow/steal some from her to read now.

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