#52books52weeks — 10/52 Annabel Pitcher “Silence is Goldfish”

I’ve been avoiding the thought of writing about Annabel Pitcher’s Silence is Goldfish for quite a while now. It tricked me into compulsive reading even though I didn’t necessarily like what I was reading. Being reminded of what adults thought of you, when you were a teenager is infuriating and annoying, and a bit patronising. Annabel Pitcher’s attempt at exposing the mind of a 15-year-old was based on stereotype and prejudice even though it touched upon some really good topics and had some powerful themes going through the book.

The catalyst for this story, Tess, discovers her Dad Jack is just Jack and she’s come from a sperm donor. It was an interesting twist on the oft-explored adoption or step-parent themes. There were some great ideas about key relationships in life like children — parents, teachers — pupils and popular kids — outcasts throughout. The choice to become mute is an interesting touch but is totally ruined when an imaginary friend starts talking to Tess… I know, it sounds bonkers.

It really got on my nerves that Tess, an introverted, overweight, insecure teenager, who wears Dr Martens and loves Star Wars (stereotype much?), was given the voice and mind of what adults think the voice and mind of a 15-year-old is. This book had so much potential to debunk the idea of a hot-headed teenager, who jumps to conclusions, resorts to crazy behaviour as a form of protest and believes her Maths teacher is her dad (really?) but instead opted for the much-expected go-to option.

On top of that, Tess starts conversing with a plastic goldfish flashlight, bought at a local petrol station during an attempted runaway (because ALL teenagers do it, duh). It really got on my nerves but I still could NOT stop reading it.

The ending fell flat as Pitcher had decided on a neatly packed resolution. After hundreds of pages of anticipation and subtle hints of a big family drama and mystery, it was all explained in a sentence. I’ll give her the benefit of doubt though, as I really enjoyed the technical aspects of her writing, how she built up a story and the way she manipulated my feelings towards characters throughout the book. It’s an easy read to kill time during your morning commute and by no means a literally masterpiece and I feel like I tend to forget that not all books are meant to be life-changing soul soothers .

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