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3.25 of 5 stars 3.25  ·  rating details  ·  296 ratings  ·  46 reviews
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 new 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 ...more
Paperback, 196 pages
Published September 1st 2010 by Coteau Books
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(showing 1-30 of 650)
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Petra Willemse
Oh this made me mad! First it's a book written all in poems to submit to their English teacher. Ok - kind of an overdone technique nowadays, but I was willing to go with it. However, what I hated was the portrayal of the adults. Why is it that some YA authors decide that the only way to appeal to teens is to make the adult figures into complete insensitive twits? This book can be read in less than an hour, but I'm not sure you should even spend that much time on it.
Shawn Bird
I loved this book. First of all, I loved that Wendy Philips so skillfully told a complex narrative with free verse poetry. I loved that each character's voice and motivation were consistent and clear. I loved the poignancy of the plot. I loved the kids. I was frustrated with the adults. I heard familiar voices.

Fishtailing won the Governer General's Award for Literature (Children's) last year. Wendy is a teacher librarian who wrote this book as part of a Master's thesis. It is quite amazing.

3 mo
Midnight Bloom
So I kind of wished I had read the plot description before I began reading this novel. I mean, I did read the one on the back of the novel, but it's in a lot less detail so as soon as I began reading, I had no idea what was really going on since I knew next to nothing about the characters except their names and that they attended high school. That's not exactly much to go on and for me, whenever I start reading a book, I like to have some sort of basis for what I'm getting myself into... but non ...more
This was an interesting, and very quick, read. "Fishtailing" is written from the points of view of six different characters -- four high school students (two female, two male), an English teacher, and a guidance counselor -- and the story is told almost entirely in poetry, rather than prose, reminiscent of Ellen Hopkins' "Crank". I wasn't sure what quality of poetry to expect going in, but much of it was rather good, and the poems were all written in convincingly teenage voices.

I didn't find the
Mar 23, 2011 Simon rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Kayla, Gio
Very thought provoking. I had to read on to solve the first few mysteries like: Who is each person and what is their background? Then when romance becomes involved, I had to try and see who was talking about who. I wanted to know who one person liked and how that other person felt about it. Would the relationships be safe, sexual, violent? Would they be sweet highschool crushes, or would all the drama play out too?

Once I solved these things and re-assessed what was going on, I understood.

The for
Andrea Wall
Really dark. This book will leave you horrified and slightly nauseous. This is good. This is how the book should be. Because the subject matter is just as dark and terrifying.

I don't understand the topic. not personally anyway. Self-harm, the manipulation all of it is never something I have had to deal with, so maybe that is why I was so grossed out by this book. I just couldn't wrap my head around it. I don't understand why people would go that far.

I read this book for my English class. (Poet
Canadian Children's Book Centre
Reviewed by Rachel Seigel

Miguel, Kyle, Tricia and Natalie are four teens whose lives are spinning out of control. Miguel has come from a wartorn 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, p
Rhiannon Ryder
Let me just start by saying I haven't read poetry (outside of books with a smidgen here or there, largely as chapter headers), since my University days; which, according to my resume, is starting to be some time ago. I wouldn't say I don't enjoy it, but I don't actively look for it. So when Coteau books sent me Fishtailing and I realised it was a collection of poetry making up a story, I was intrigued but not enough to bump it to the top of the pile.
Don't make my mistake!

Beautifully written, Wen
This is the story of four teens in high school dealing with issues of abuse, bullying, racism, violence, fitting in, and following your dreams. Wendy Philips tells the story in free verse poetry, each character with their own voice, also with input from two of their teachers.

My Thoughts:
I wasn't sure about this book when I saw that it was written in poetry, but it was interesting and different kind of book to read. Fishtailing also won the Governor General's Literary Award.

At first, I g
Ying Lee
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Copyright: 2007

This story tells lives of four high school students (Tricia, Miguel, Natalie, and Kyle), each of whom has personal or family issues with them. Natalie is a new student student from another school as well as a manipulative girl with alcoholic parents. Miguel's violence tendency shown in his writing concerns his English teacher, Mrs. Farr. Natalie is a half-white and half-Japanese girl who is set up by Natalie to date Kyle. Kyle is a musician who likes to rid
A very short read that you won't be able to put down. Four students at a Canadian (but that doesn't matter) high school whose lives intersect--two boys and two girls. Some of the poems are also from teachers' point of view as they try to intercede on behalf of a student they see getting in trouble. One of the girls, Natalie, is new to the school and very manipulative. She sets up Tricia to date Kyle, while she begins dating an immigrant boy, Miguel. But then at a party Natalie makes out with Kyl ...more
Jordan Cummings
I typically prefer main-stream novels, and this book is written in free verse. It's an interesting take on the typical young-adult novel. I did enjoy it, but I feel as if I would have loved it if I had more experience with poetry. This book follows four teens going through extremely difficult times. If you like poetry, do read! If you don't, it is still a good read, just not as effective.
Sean Kottke
Vancouver teens Kyle, Tricia, Natalie and Miguel are all outsiders in their own unique ways. Mrs. Farr is the English teacher who challenges their powers of poetic expression, and Mrs. Nishi is their guidance counselor. Their stories unfold in their own voices, through poems written for school, poems that express the teens' subjective impressions of the events that impact them, and emails between the adults attempting to keep them from fishtailing emotionally. While that might sound like a recip ...more
Christine Andersson
Finished this as soon as I got home from school. Such a fun read. It's short and held my attention the whole time. I really enjoy reading books with metaphors and special structures. I felt like I understood the book well and it ended so beautifully. Thank you Rachel for letting me borrow this
Jack Paquette
Hey!(: so I have read some bad reviews about this book lately. And I am here to disprove them I felt this story was very true about what my girlfriend is going through and I could see her in the pages of this book. I also could not put this book down I read it in one sitting before I went to bed.
Ariel Gordon
WENDY Phillips' debut, a young adult novel-in-verse called Fishtailing (Coteau Books, 200 pages, $15) was recently awarded the 2010 Governor General's Literary Award for children's literature.

Phillips, who teaches high school in Richmond, B.C., has managed several minor miracles in Fishtailing.

First, she writes convincingly from the point of view not only of four very different teenagers but also their creative writing teacher and guidance counsellor.

Second, she writes about child abuse, mixed-r
Feb 05, 2011 Chantale rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: adults and teens
Loved it. At first I was reluctant, as I am not a big poetry reader. Poems take longer to digest because they don't often come out and say what they mean, they allude to it, and they are open to so many more interpretations. That said, it was a quick read. It is a book that challenges you to think more as a reader. I felt engaged the whole way through. While the book also includes e-mails between the teacher and guidance counselor, the plot is driven mainly by the student's and their poems which ...more
A quickly read novel in verse. Canadian teens Kyle, Tricia, Natalie and Miguel are all outsiders in their own unique ways. Mrs. Farr is their English teacher who challenges their powers of poetic expression. Mrs. Nishi is their guidance counselor. Each story unfolds in its own voice, through the poems written for English class. These poems express the teens' impressions of the events that impact them. We also read the emails between the adults attempting to keep them from fishtailing emotionally ...more
Rachel Lynn
Oh my goodness!!! This was SO GOOD! I thought that it was so interesting that the author wrote the whole book in poetry form, and still managed to let the reader know what the main purpose of the story is. I really wish it would have been longer though, because the story has basically just reached its climax, and turns out, the book ends! On the mother hand, I really wished that I read the plot before I read the book, because l thought that it was difficult to really know what the book was about ...more
Written in free verse - hard hitting and shocking. I admit I do not normally enjoy books written in free verse but I have enjoyed a few and Fishtailing is one of them. I didn't love it - but it had me hooked. Sometimes I find free verse hard to follow but i had no problem with this one.

Modern, dark and edgy - about 4 students in high school - Natalie, Tricia, Kyle and Miguel. Natalie is the master manipulator and before they know it the other three are caught up in her cruel game "fishtailing"
I read the whole book twice and still couldn't make sense of it.

The story seemed to be told from an outsiders point of view, not making me connect with the characters. The constant switching between points of view left me confused and agitated.

The writing was fine, not mediocre, but fine.

I would have liked the chapters and the story itself to be a bit longer and maybe some thoughts of the characters jotted in there instead of the recounting of actions.
I think that this style of writing is very hard to do, and is easily a boring, and horrible book. However it surprised me in how captivating she made these characters and how masterfully she put together these poems and such to give the reader such a broad view of there lives. I especially liked the ending, I think it put a touch of realization into it, hitting the reader hard with so much pact emotion. A spectacular book and one i would recommend to anyone.
I read this because it was mentioned in an article in English Journal.

As usual, I didn't like the poetry format because it didn't allow me to learn much about the characters. Also, the teacher in the book is just terrible and I found myself yelling at her often.

Still, the story was interesting and quick.
This book was good, but not great. The characters were interesting - although I really disliked the English teacher. Some of the poems were terrific, and others were only so-so - a bit uneven. It seemed really unneccessary to have each character's poems in a different font. Won the GG award.
Rachel Seigel
Told in four different voices, this novel in verse is beautifully written, and tragic. The story moves quickly, and readers will link together the pieces of the story from the different voices. Weaker readers may struggle with the format as it requires a deep reading of the text to put it together.
Londa Kever
Aug 11, 2012 Londa Kever marked it as to-read
Shelves: young-adult
CONTEMPORARY REALISTIC TEEN FICTION. For you teens who love Crank, Glass, and other books by Ellen Hopkins. If you liked Cut by Patricia McCormack, I predict this is a book for you. Gritty, hard- edged. Contains language which may offend some, but if will resonate with many teens.
not really my type of read (i don't really like poetry or excessive teen angst) but i thought the poetry was really well done and i was surprised at how nicely the story flowed. the characters are pretty stereotypical but it was a nice change of pace from prose.
This is a beautifully creative book in verse that tells the stories of four teens who are fishtailing out of control. Phillips includes poetry, letters, emails, notes, and dialogue to convey her message. I couldn't put this down and read the entire book in on sitting!
Cons-- At points, I found it very confusing and had to re-read that page.
Switching from character to character makes it hard to follow.

Pros-- Some parts were exciting.
The author has a good style of writing.
I liked the wording the author used.
Fishtailing is a short, powerful read about four teens searching for identity and independence. It reflects on the idea that although we are the sum of our experiences and memories, we have the free will to choose the path on which we travel.
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Wendy began her first novel at the age of 11, climbing the hills behind her hometown of Kamloops, B.C. to scribble in notebooks. Her love for words has led her into jobs as a journalist, a bookbinder, an English teacher, and a high-school teacher-librarian. She holds degrees in Journalism, English, Education, and Children’s Literature. She has lived in Ottawa, in Lesotho, Southern Africa, and in A ...more
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