Silence is Goldfish by Annabel Pitcher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
“From now on, every girl in the world who might be a slayer…will be a slayer. Every girl who could have the power…will have the power…can stand up, will stand up. …every one of us. Make your choice. Are you ready to be strong?” Buffy Summers, ‘Chosen’
Silence is Goldfish makes me think about power.
Power and silence and stillness and movement. The opportunities for power, for the expression of that power, are so often restricted to a number of individuals who fit a specific criteria. And one of those criteria is that they are adults, usually, often. Nearly always.
Young adult literature thrives in that exploration of power and voice because it talks to the voiceless. The negated. The people who exist, vibrantly, wholly, and yet are held at arm’s length
This book makes me think about power so much. Pitcher’s third novel for young adults is a soaring, dark, emotional knot of a book with storm-bright passages which rise from the pages with almost palpable energy. It is a substantial and filling read, covering a host of issues, dense sometimes, but oddly filling and satisfyingly so. I don’t think Silence is Goldfish is a quick, light read. I think there’s something meaty here; an oak buried in ink on the page and something that symbolises Pitcher’s development as an author quite beautifully. This book is mature and rich and filling, to be chewed on and digested slowly. A slow read. Yes, that’s it.
And so to, plot, for what is a review that tells you of oaks and of voice and of Buffy and yet tells you nothing of the plot?
Tess has read a blog of her father’s, and she has discovered that he is not her father after all. They are not biologically related as she thought, and the blog talks of her father’s difficulties in learning to love her. Hate. Sadness. Pain. The words move through Tess like light on water, and her emotions spill everywhere, everywhere. Power, really. It’s about the power of words, this novel, and the power of actions, and so Tess decides to express her only form of control that she has. She becomes mute, holding her pain so tightly within her that she starts to lose control on her life. And what a knotted, tied-taut life it is, coloured with best friends and fake friends and a goldfish shaped torch with opinions that he’s just ready to share.
Pitcher’s writing is vibrant and intense, and there are moments in this book which see her just – go. An author let loose. You can feel them, pounding, bloody, visceral. Paragraphs that punch and scream their way from the page. There’s power here, not only in Tess’ conscious attempt to gain control of her mad, unbearable life, but also in Pitcher’s writing. There’s something greater and better coming here, I feel it, and if we bear in mind how great and how richly satisfying Silence is Goldfish is when I say that, I suspect that the next novel from Pitcher might be epochal.