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By Annabel Pitcher
Genre: Juvenile Fiction
Curriculum Subject: Family Life: Parents/Siblings/Babies, Teen Life: Personal Development, Personal Development: Friendship
Grades: 7th & up
Listen to Author Interview
Fifteen-year-old Tess doesn’t mean to become mute. At first, she’s just too shocked to speak. And who wouldn’t be? Discovering your whole life has been a lie because your dad isn’t your real father is a pretty big deal. Terrified of the truth, Tess retreats into silence.
Reeling from her family’s betrayal, Tess sets out to discover the identity of her real father. He could be anyone–even the familiar-looking teacher at her school. Tess continues to investigate, uncovering a secret that could ruin multiple lives. It all may be too much for Tess to handle, but how can she ask for help when she’s forgotten how to use her voice?
In a brilliant study of identity, betrayal, and complex family dynamics, award-winning author Annabel Pitcher explores the importance of communication, even when we’re faced with unspeakable truths.
★ “Tess’s silence presents myriad challenges, including the loss of a best friend and some intense bullying, but it also brings new confidence… It’s a painful but rewarding story of an insecure teen finding her voice.” —Publishers Weekly
★ “Stream-of-consciousness narration revealing Tess’ internal struggle gives way to silent dialogue with a goldfish-shaped flashlight in her pocket. ‘Mr. Goldfish’ becomes her confidant and anchor as she tries to pinpoint signs of Jack’s unfatherly behavior, ‘swimming’ through the air in her imagination and providing enthusiastic commentary. Tess, a big—some might say fat—white girl, invites readers into her alienation with a sort of savage intimacy. Pitcher delivers a story of betrayal and miscues among family and friends with a realistic blend of humor and gravity as Tess slides toward mental instability. An unflinchingly honest portrayal of anguish.” —Kirkus