My name is Tess Turner--at least, that's what I've always been told.
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.
It never occurred to me that everyone else was lying too.
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. Terrified of the truth, Tess retreats into silence.
Reeling from her family's betrayal, Tess sets out to discover the identity of her real father. He could be anyone--even the familiar-looking teacher at her school. Tess continues to investigate, uncovering a secret that could ruin multiple lives. It all may be too much for Tess to handle, but how can she ask for help when she's forgotten how to use her voice?
In a brilliant study of identity, betrayal, and complex family dynamics, award-winning author Annabel Pitcher explores the importance of communication, even when we're faced with unspeakable truths.
Pitcher (My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece) returns with a memorably offbeat novel narrated by 15-year-old Tess, who decides to stop speaking. The reason: discovering a blog post written by her struggling actor father, Jack, which reveals that he isn't her biological father, and that he was repulsed by her birth. Tess's silence presents myriad challenges, including the loss of a best friend and some intense bullying, but it also brings new confidence. "I am quite certain that I have never in my life appeared more powerful," she thinks. Tess also becomes obsessed with her charming but shady substitute teacher (imagining that he might be her real father), befriends his handsome son, and engages in imaginary conversations with her goldfish-shaped flashlight, whose sidekicklike musings and advice offer a window into Tess's inner reality. Moreover, her silence intensifies her awareness of how the family infantilizes her beloved Gran, how Jack exaggerates his work prospects, and how he belittles Tess for being chubby and introverted. It's a painful but rewarding story of an insecure teen finding her voice. Ages 12 up.