‘I have a voice but it isn’t mine. It used to say things so I’d fit in – to please my parents, to please my teachers. It used to tell the universe I was something I wasn’t. It lied.’
Fifteen-year-old Tess doesn’t mean to become mute. At first, she’s just too shocked to speak. And who wouldn’t be? Discovering your whole life has been a lie because your dad isn’t your real father is a pretty big deal. Tess sets out to find the truth of her identity, and uncovers a secret that could ruin multiple lives. But can she ask for help when she’s forgotten how to use her voice?
I’ve heard good things about Annabel Pitchers previous two novels, so was very excited to read this book. In the first chapter is Tess running away from home after finding something devastating on her dad’s laptop. Before I found out exactly what it was I was convinced it would be something much darker than it was, so to me at least it was almost a relief when I found out the real room. The news is understandably devastating to Tess and breaks her world as she knows it.
While Tess is not talking, she does have inner conversations with a goldfish torch she bought when running away. Mr Goldfish is another voice, the voice we al have where we debate things in our heads, and therefore you get a good sense of the conflict and feelings Tess feels throughout the book. Mr Goldfish helps her try to figure out and cope with the various problems she faces.
The book was well written from the setting to the characters, you could easily picture the school classrooms and canteen, and relate the characters to people you’ve known at school. I really enjoyed all the characters, there was such a variation of personalities. You have Henry who was philosophical and spoke in a way that I can imagine will get on some peoples nerves, as I feel it could come across as pretentious or stuck-up thinking he’s beyond the mundaneness of consumerism and such like, but can be equally charming with it, like when he met Tess’s mum who hangs on every word Henry says. Then you have Anna who is clearly a bully at the start of the book, but then becomes nicer, and you find yourself second guessing yourself and the first impressions she made. Every character is clearly individual, most will bring smiles to your face and you want to get to know how they fit into Tess’s life.
Tess has an obsession after finding out the news, and it’s understandable, but it quickly gets out of control. You are helpless to do anything and can only watch. In some regards the reaction was that of a much younger person, and while thinking about it would have been expected, the lengths Tess goes to is bordering on worrying. Tess has previously lied to her parents. She wanted to be perfect to them, or at least what she interpreted as their picture of perfection. It was tough on her, having to do things she didn’t enjoy, and it eventually ended in the break up of her relationship with her best friend, and it was sad to see. However in one way, everything that happened to her, did lead her to Henry, who was a ray of sunshine in her life. He was nothing like I was expecting him to be and it was so nice to see their friendship blossom.
I would have liked a chapter or two of ‘normality’ in Tess’s life before she found out the news, as she is so angry at her dad Jack throughout the book and treats she of his quirks with such contempt, like his constant lying to make himself seem more successful in his acting than he actually is. Did this annoy her beforehand, or did she overlook it out of love and now she’s angry she is more sensitive to it?
Jack also seems to have quite a temper at times, when talking about exam, after their pantomime as a couple of examples. It was only towards the end that I started liking him, as even flashbacks didn’t paint him in a fantastic light, but then as we only get Tess’s point of view, obviously she isn’t going to recall all the fun times they had.
Overall I enjoyed this book, it covers more issues than I thought it would, initially I was worried it would 100% focus on her obsession, but it branched out into much more and that made it much better.
Published by: Orion Children’s Books
Gratefully received from the Publisher for review