Rudy is an average teenage boy. He plays pranks on his friends and gets into trouble, but he always planned on going to college. His life takes a drastic turn, however, when he and his family move to a remote island in an effort to save his sick little brother. After months of loneliness and boredom, he meets two friends: Diana, a teenage girl who lives a reclusive existence in the only mansion on the island; and Teeth, a “fishboy” whose screams and dark secrets keep Rudy wide awake in horror at night.
Through Teeth's mysterious cries, flaky scales and mangy hair, the novel takes the literary tradition of mermaids and makes it dark, ugly and potentially deadly. Rudy is inexplicably drawn to Teeth, despite also being afraid of him, and the two isolated and lonely boys soon find refuge in their friendship. Geared toward an older teen audience with mature themes and language, Teeth succeeds in the difficult task of convincingly capturing the voice of a teenage boy and making him likeable, yet not without flaws and weaknesses. Moskowitz does a beautiful job of portraying a universal adolescent struggle—the quest to become comfortable in one’s own skin—within the framework of a story where the reader is just as anxious as Rudy to uncover the mysteries of the island.
Moskowitz’s only weakness appears in the middle of the novel, as a lack of concrete plot development slows the tension and mystery of the story. However, her remarkable characters and unique setting prove strong enough to keep readers amply intrigued to carry on.
Rudy’s friendship with Teeth, as well as the secrets he uncovers about the strange island and its inhabitants, makes Teeth one story about mermaids that is anything but a fairy tale.