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Fishtailing by Wendy Phillips


by Wendy Phillips

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Fishtailing is a dark, lyric look at the teenage soul. Although it is written in poetry, limiting the description of this book to lines poetry is too much like limiting the description of prose to mere strings of words. This story uses the medium to enhance the effect, rather being limited by it. Verse by verse, Wendy Phillips builds a terrible momentum within her characters. They charge themselves and each other with emotions that force them to veer off onto new, dangerous routes. LIke a car fishtailing past you on the highway, you can't look away, even though you fear what is about to happen.
Fair warning, I know the author personally, but she got the Governor General's award for the book - and it was well deserved. ( )
  KHarkness | Jun 13, 2013 |
Realistic teen novel in verse that will appeal to fans of authors like Ellen Hopkins and Sonya Sones. ( )
  Sullywriter | Apr 3, 2013 |
The most powerful aspect of this GG award winning book is how in such a short time, (under an hour to read) and using free verse, you are able to come to know each of the characters. Many dark themes emerge as we discover their backstories; dysfunctional families, war crimes, rape, cutting, and suicide. I realize that, for many students, literature can be a safe way to explore these dark themes. I do worry though, about their effect on our at-risk teens, who, like Miguel, may feel like they “have no choice.” ( )
  Lindsay_W | Feb 11, 2013 |
• This was a very interesting story to read as it takes place as a series of 4 different poems, each written by a different character for the same English class. Each character (Natalie, Kyle, Tricia and Miguel) have a different story to tell, from stories of rape, alcoholic parents, love, lust, and the drama that comes along with being a teenager in high school. The four are individuals within the story, but are also part of something bigger as their lives intertwine and they end up meeting at a party together at the end where things “fishtail” out of control.
• I would use this novel in a high school setting. I found the idea of writing the novel in a free-style poetic format foreign to me at first, but it grew on me very quickly! After only a few pages I forgot that I was even reading what was really a long compilation of poems, because it told the story so well. I found that this story related really well with a lot of the situations I was surrounded in as a high school student myself, and think that using this book in an English classroom at that age would open up an opportunity for some great conversations about bullying and violence (both physical and emotional) that takes place within the hallways, internet, and social settings that are what we call High School.
• Themes: Teen bullying, “fitting in”, teen violence
• Governor General’s Award Winner
  kwandler | Dec 2, 2010 |
Wendy Phillip's first novel comes out of the gates as a Governor General's Literacy Award for Children's Literature. This collection of poems tells the story of 4 teens struggling to deal with rejection, death, abuse and personal identitiy. The rebellion of Tricia, the manipulation and self-mutilation of Natalie, the pain of Miguel and the self-discovery of Kyle is observed and occasionally commented on by their counsellor, Ms. Nishi and their English teacher, Mrs. Farr. It rings entirely true in setting. As a high school librarian in British Columbia, the voice of the teachers is completely authentic. The voice of the teens is equally compelling, as their lives intertwine and head towards the tragic conclusion. For high school English teachers, this book is a must read for classes to share a new vision of poetry and reflection on teen life in schools today. ( )
  cmcvittie | Nov 16, 2010 |
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Through a series of poems written for English class, interspersed with teacher comments and letters to and from parents, high school students Natalie, Tricia, Kyle, and Miguel describe their lives.

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Coteau Books

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