Saturday, October 31, 2015

Silence is Goldfish

Silence is Goldfish 
by Annabel Pitcher 
Language: English 
London : Indigo , 2015. 
384 p. ; 216 x 135mm 
ISBN: 9781510100435 1510100431 
Summary: What happens to a fifteen-year-old girl when she finds out for the first time that her own father feels revulsion toward her, finds her peculiar, and doesn't even consider her to be his daughter? That's what Tess discovers one night when, during an emergency, she had to go to the nearest computer in the house to find out how to put out a kitchen fire. Glancing at what her father had on the screen, she discovers a blog post he wrote for the Donor Conception Network, where he admits to not loving the "ugly red thing gnawing" at his wife's breast on his daughter's first day of life. This is how in fact Tess discovers that she was actually conceived via sperm donor, and that the only father she has ever known is not really her father. This truth completely unmoors her. At first Tess runs away from home, but decides against it after four hours on her own in the middle of the night, only to wonder how she is to live with this man and this new knowledge. She returns home but within 24 hours, Tess becomes mute as a protest against her parents for a lifetime of lies. The book is told in the first person and though mute, Tess has a lot to say, but all of the dialogue stays in her head as she communicates only with a plastic goldfish she bought when she ran away and that she now keeps in her pocket. Meanwhile, finding out the truth about her conception is just one of her problems. Tess is brutally bullied both online and at school for being fat and for her large frame, which she now knows she mustn't have gotten from her father, and she loses her best friend when she can no longer confide in her about what she found out on her father's computer that night. Tess also becomes fixated on the substitute math teacher who has the same blonde hair, brown eyes, and fat fingers that she has. Convinced they share the same DNA, she becomes obsessed with learning more about him, and what she does is so shocking that it finally leads her out of her mutism. This book explores what happens when parents keep the truth from their children in cases where they had to use donor sperm to conceive. It is not so much this fact that causes Tess's problems as much as it is the fact that the truth has been kept from her her entire life. Except for scenes of cruel bullying, there is no violence, sex, or foul language in this book. Recommended for ages 12 and up.

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