Sean Kottke's Reviews > Fishtailing

Fishtailing by Wendy  Phillips
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's review
Dec 22, 11

bookshelves: 2011, ya

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 recipe for something opaque and Joycean, Fishtailing is anything but. A strong narrative thread runs clearly through each concentrated dose of adolescent psyche, weaving a gripping story. It's easily consumed in a single sitting, but it's haunting and vivid enough to stick with readers for long afterward. Loved it!

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