Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz
Rudy is kept up at night by screams from the ocean. He tries to convince himself that it’s merely the wind whipping of the water’s surface, but he knows he’s only fooling himself. Something out there is alive and in pain. The locals believe the screams belong to a ghost that haunts the island where Rudy and his family recently moved to in an effort to cure his five-year-old brother Dylan’s cystic fibrosis. The surrounding waters of this unnamed island harbor Enki fish that have the ability to heal any sickness or disease when eaten by the afflicted, but the magic stops working if the fish are no longer ingested. Because of this, Rudy’s new home is populated by people who are permanently tethered to the island’s magic, including Dylan (and subsequently Rudy’s parents). This overwhelming sense of despair leave Rudy torn between remaining with his family forever on the island or abandoning them in a couple years once college begins.
In an effort to escape the suffocating atmosphere at home, Rudy wanders the beach until one day he spots a boy drowning out at sea. Even though he’s a terrible swimmer, he jumps in to save the boy only to discover that he’s not just a boy, but a fishboy named Teeth. Teeth is a strange, pathetic creature, not particularly good at being either a fish or a boy, and is described by Rudy as simply “ugly,” looking nothing like the mermen of legend. Teeth’s goal is to free his Enki brethren who are being consumed by the islanders but violent run-ins with the local fishermen put a damper on his plans. Despite Teeth’s battered past (or perhaps because of it), Rudy becomes enamored by this fishboy and begins spending all of his time with him, abandoning the tense atmosphere at home in favor of something a bit more appealing.
Readers looking for a new, darker take on the recently popular mermaid books are sure to find something to love in Teeth.