D’you know what the most exciting thing about this book is? It comes out on general release today so everyone can read it!
I’d read ‘Ketchup Clouds’ a few years ago, and kept intending to read ‘My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece’ but other books shoved their way in and Annabel Pitcher was pushed to one side. When I saw this on NetGalley, I was desperate to get a copy.
It certainly hasn’t been a disappointment. Tessie-T, our central protagonist, compares herself to Pluto. She’s not there at the centre, partying like Mercury and Venus, she’s miles away in her own orbit, observing from afar. She used to think it was okay until her dad, Jack, wanted her to try and be more involved with life, make friends, be excited and spontaneous.
That was an okay sort of deal she made with herself until she finds out something monumental.
Jack isn’t her dad.
Enter a rollercoaster of emotions as Tess tries to work out what this means, and what being rejected says about her. Is this why her ‘dad’ has always tried to push her harder, because she’s not good enough to be his real daughter? Have all those wonderful times they spent together in the past been a complete lie?
Then, there’s also the matter of school. Her dishy maths teacher goes off to have an operation for a term, and a new teacher comes in, also called Jack. He has brown eyes and sort of the same colour as her. And they seem to have… a connection? Some sort of silent one at least.
Without giving much away, I also love the title. You’ll see why.
‘Silence is Goldfish’ is a very fast, pacy read; you won’t want to put it down. One of those books where it’s: ‘oh, just one more chapter and then I’ll do xyz.’ A few chapters later xyz doesn’t seem important. There’s a wonderful motley cast of characters, each well-developed in their own way; no extraneous people there for the sake of it. Not to say there aren’t minor characters, but they’re meant to be minor characters and stay where they’re put.
I would have liked to know more about Tessie’s friend Isabel I have to say, and more in depth about the whole Blaise thing (sorry, no spoilers!) but that was okay. They weren’t things I needed to know, more that I would have liked to know.
The climax is brilliant, and I love Tess’s confidence at the end as she speaks out against… someone. Not telling! Go read the book – it’s great.
Thanks NetGalley for the opportunity to read, and to Annabel Pitcher for such an enjoyable book.
So. Here comes the unexpected trigger part. Nothing to do with EDs, depression, or any psychiatric disorders. Not lost fathers, not bullying (although everyone’s had their fair share of that.)
Spoiler alert: Tess, the central protagonist becomes an elective mute. I did this for a a month or so when I was in hospital as, I guess, a sort of protest. It was a pretty ineffective process because I was still willing to write down things that people wanted answers to, and I still had written conversations with my therapist. I felt like a failure because I couldn’t even be a ‘proper’ mute. But, as Tess finds through the novel, what is she protesting about? What was I protesting about? I was protesting against myself I think; the fact that I thought people were trying to ‘make’ me recover and how bloody angry I was at the time.
Trouble is, the desire to do it is so strong again now. I’m already thinking about limiting the words I can say per hour, which is how it started. I haven’t done it, but it’s still there. What a strange thing to be triggered by. I guess it’s partly just to do with sticking two fingers up at the world. Fuck you. I can be in my own world and no one needs to be party to it.
But, I want to be a writer. I’m in the end stages of writing my novel, and have an agent lined up. How does the wish to be silent marry with the fact I want my voice heard? Maybe that’s why I’m publishing under another name; I’ve always decided I wanted to, but never thought too hard about why.
Anyway. Has anyone else gone through periods of elective mutism? What have been your experiences afterwards?