VOYA Review - Fishtailing
Reviewed by: C J Bott
5Q 4P J S
Told through the voices of four high school students, a strictly structured English teacher, and a patient counselor, this novel in verse takes the reader into the side of high school that has little to do with course work.
New student Natalie, a damaged and damaging manipulator, works her ugliness on everyone. She recruits the lonely Tricia and teaches her how to self-injure through cutting and bulimia. Miguel, trying to distance herself from the bloody memories of the deaths of his family during a political war in Central America, falls in love with what he thinks she is. Kyle loves Tricia, but Natalie forces Tricia to share him.
With the author's help, each student's verse improves, while revealing to the reader the most intimate and fragile thoughts. The poetry is touching, painful, and jarring as Phillips presents their stories through their hesitiations, hopes, pains, and fears. The plot constantly twists and turns, keeping the reader guessing what will happen next.
(Q = quality, P = popularity. 5 = 'hard to imagine it being better written', 4 = 'broad general or genre YA appeal') J Junior High (defined as grades 7-9). S Senior High (defined as grades 10-12).