cover image Silence Is Goldfish

Silence Is Goldfish

Annabel Pitcher. Little, Brown, $17.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-316-37075-2

Pitcher (My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece) returns with a memorably offbeat novel narrated by 15-year-old Tess, who decides to stop speaking. The reason: discovering a blog post written by her struggling actor father, Jack, which reveals that he isn’t her biological father, and that he was repulsed by her birth. Tess’s silence presents myriad challenges, including the loss of a best friend and some intense bullying, but it also brings new confidence. “I am quite certain that I have never in my life appeared more powerful,” she thinks. Tess also becomes obsessed with her charming but shady substitute teacher (imagining that he might be her real father), befriends his handsome son, and engages in imaginary conversations with her goldfish-shaped flashlight, whose sidekicklike musings and advice offer a window into Tess’s inner reality. Moreover, her silence intensifies her awareness of how the family infantilizes her beloved Gran, how Jack exaggerates his work prospects, and how he belittles Tess for being chubby and introverted. It’s a painful but rewarding story of an insecure teen finding her voice. Ages 12–up. Agent: Catherine Clarke, Felicity Bryan Associates. (May)