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list price: $7.95
edition:eBook
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published: Apr 2010
ISBN:9781550506044
publisher: Coteau Books

Fishtailing

by Wendy Phillips

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peer pressure, bullying, self-esteem & self-reliance
0 of 5
0 ratings
rated!
rated!
list price: $7.95
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
published: Apr 2010
ISBN:9781550506044
publisher: Coteau Books
Description

Teen violence, bullying and the burning quest to fit in are presented in the poems of four unforgettable high school students: Natalie, Kyle, Tricia, Miguel. Their stories unfold in this explosive book, told in free verse. A story of teen angst like no other, it is based on fictional characters but is rooted in the realities of the teen experience. When Natalie moves to a new high school she befriends three unwitting victims into her spider-web of manipulations, lies and deceit. Through the poetry and assignments of an English class we glimpse the world of the four teens. Natalie, whose alcoholic parents, years of neglect and ultimate rape by her father’s friend have shaped her into a cruel and manipulative teen; Tricia, dealing with her blended family, is drawn into Natalies’ forbidden world of partying and rebellion; Kyle, a would-be musician, is in love with Tricia; and Miguel who lusts for Natalie while hiding the secrets of his family. The story weaves us through their poetry, their lives and culminates at a party where the four lives fishtail out of control. English class will never be the same.

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
Age:
14 to 100
Grade:
10 to 17
Awards
  • Winner, Governor General's Literary Award for Children's Fiction

Reader Reviews

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Canadian Children's  Book Centre
Librarian review

Fishtailing

Miguel, Kyle, Tricia and Natalie are four teens whose lives are spinning out of control. Miguel has come from a war-torn country somewhere in Central America. Kyle is a musician with a romantic soul who longs for Natalie to notice him, and Tricia — half Japanese, half white — feels like the odd girl out in her mother’s new, perfect, white family. And then there’s Natalie: emotionally damaged in horrifying ways, she becomes the master puppeteer in the other teens’ lives, playing a game that can only end in tragedy.

This debut novel by author Wendy Phillips, told entirely in verse and in six voices, touches on a number of difficult topics such as bullying, abuse and cutting. The poems of the teens alternate between each character’s internal thoughts, which move the action along, and the assignments they are completing for class, which are often dark and emotionally raw. The adult voices of the teacher Mrs. Farr and the guidance councilor Mrs. Nishi are represented primarily through either the teacher’s notes to her students or through their emails back and forth about the students, filling in some of the background information. Occasionally, the reader is given a glimpse into the thoughts of these two women, but the primary focus is on the teens.

The poems are excellent and the author beautifully captures the complex emotions of the teens. The language is spare, yet each of the poems contain important pieces of the puzzle, merging together to create a story. This format, while satisfying for a sophisticated reader, may pose challenges for a weak or reluctant reader who is unused to drawing inferences to derive meaning. Fast paced, and often heartbreaking, this novel offers the reader much to discuss and think about long after reading.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Summer 2010. Vol.33 No.3.

Canadian Children's  Book Centre
Librarian review

Fishtailing

This very intriguing collection of poems, emails and notes will keep teenagers flipping from page to page to see how the story ends. The voices of Natalie, Tricia, Kyle, Miguel, Mrs. Farr and Ms Nishi are cleverly interwoven to tell the story of these four high school students who are desperately trying to find their place in the world. As Natalie manipulates her friends, dangerous consequences ensue.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. 2011.

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