Teeth is an unusual journey from beginning to end and it is not often that I read a book that captures my heart in such a complete way. Set on a lonely, windswept island, the residence there are all in search of the healing properties of the local fish. Rudy’s brother is very sick and so his life, and the lives f his immediate family, have been uprooted in search of this cure. The first thing I noticed about Rudy, if you’ll pardon the pun, is that he is adrift. He mourns for his old life, as any teen would, but he doesn’t feel like he has the freedom to complain because of his brother’s health. His life is lonely and the descriptions of the isolated place where they live really add to that feeling. There is definitely a Gothic feel to this whole story, with mysterious and eccentric characters all holed up in their houses until it’s time to go to market and buy fish. Eerie screaming at night eventually leads Rudy to Teeth, and the friendship is both awe inspiring and darkly fascinating. Add the town shut-in with a beautiful daughter and it was a story that enthralled me from beginning to end.
There are strong fairy tale elements in this book. For instance, the story of Teeth’s conception is straight out of a fairy tale and in its modern setting it might be hard to get around that, but it did not bother me. In fact, it pulled me into the story and enchanted my sense of curiosity about how the book would eventually come to its conclusion. Everything about this story seemed to live simultaneously in a world of brutal realities and fantastical elements. One plot point I really loved was the semi-romance between Rudy and Diana. Rudy is fascinated by this beautiful girl that is so smart, yet so cut off, and it felt to me like an excellent way to compare the way he has always interacted with girls versus his connection with Teeth. They are two beings that are both abandoned, in their own way, and are trying desperately to find a connection to the cruel world around them. Their friendship, which feels like much more by the end, is full of impossible choices and the most wonderful part of reading this book was watching Rudy and Teeth navigate their individual pain by helping each other. There is no doubt in my mind that, above all else, this is their story and it is one that will make you laugh, cry, and stare out to sea long after you’ve finished the book.