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Literature / Teeth

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It's just the wind. Not water. Not anyone. Go to sleep.

A novel by Hannah Moskowitz, Teeth is about Rudy, a sixteen year old whose family moves to a small island home to Enki fish. This breed has the magical ability to cure anything from cuts to cancer, and the inhabitants of the island all benefit.

There, Rudy copes with his younger brother's touch-and-go recovery from cystic fibrosis and all the anxiety that comes with. He meets the only two other teenagers on the island — Diana, a book smart girl who rarely leaves her house, and Teeth, a caustic, self-destructive merboy.

Contains examples of:

  • Aborted Declaration of Love
  • Alliterative Name: Diana Delaney, Daniel Delaney.
  • Ambiguously Bi / Ambiguously Gay: Rudy and Teeth, respectively. Rudy, at least, is confirmed by Word of God to be bisexual.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Teeth has something going on with him, though it's understandable with what he's gone through. For that matter, everyone on the island is a bit detached from reality.
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  • Arc Words: "I think this is the part where we stop pretending we're not going to see each other again."
  • Armor-Piercing Response: When Rudy yells at Mrs. Delaney for throwing Teeth into the ocean, she responds thusly.
    Mrs Delaney: He was a fish. Where would you have put a fish?
  • Asshole Victim: The fishermen.
  • Badass Bookworm: Diana.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Rudy is settling into the island and his brother is getting better, but his relationship with Diana is implied to be ruined, and he'll likely never see Teeth again.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Teeth is self-destructive and overly possessive, but the fishermen are rapists who are more than willing to torture Teeth.
  • Bookends: Rudy discussing his thoughts on the ocean.
  • Character Development: Rudy and Teeth both go through some as a result of knowing each other.
    Rudy: I don't know why they think I've changed. It's Dylan. The difference is Dylan, playing back. I haven't changed. Why would I have changed?
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  • Chekhov's Gun: A literal one, in fact — Mrs. Delaney's gun is mentioned in passing by Diana and later used to murder the fishermen.
  • Child by Rape: YMMV on if the fish that impregnates Mrs. Delaney was actually sentient enough to know what it was doing, but either way, Teeth is this.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Teeth.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: For a variety of reasons.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Teeth is a victim of abandonment and daily sexual assault, Diana grew up more or less on her own and has trouble interacting with people, and Rudy has been coping with his brother's illness and his own feelings of inadequacy.
  • For the Evulz: It's never explained why the fishermen do the things that they do.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The 'wind' that Rudy hears at night and believes to be screaming.
    • Rudy says early on that the island feels like the perfect place for a murder.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Teeth.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: Yes, getting turned on by the thought of making out with a merboy is absolutely a normal teen male fantasy, Rudy. It's implied that he gets over it.
  • Homoerotic Subtext: And how.
  • Human Mom Non Human Dad: Teeth was born through a "union" when his father, a fish, raped his mother, a human.
  • Hypocritical Humor: With Teeth, often.
  • If It's You, It's Okay: Rudy feels this way towards Teeth, but he gets around to acknowledging that he probably is bisexual by the end of the book.
  • I Have No Son!: Mrs. Delaney refuses to acknowledge Teeth, aka Daniel, because he is a Childby Rape.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Teeth.
  • Killed Off for Real: The fishermen.
  • Malaproper: Teeth uses these often.
  • Meaningful Rename: After Daniel is abandoned by his mother, he renames himself after the teeth he's growing in.
    Rudy: What kind of a name is that?
    Teeth: The kind I gave myself.
  • Odd Friendship: Rudy and Teeth.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted and lampshaded.
  • Rape as Backstory: Teeth is raped on a nightly basis by the fishermen, and Teeth's own mother was raped before giving birth to him.
  • Really Gets Around: Rudy's easy.
  • Smart People Wear Glasses: Diana thinks so.
  • Straight Gay: If Teeth is gay, this is him, though it's hard to apply any human standards to him. Rudy is more of a straight bi.
  • Tempting Fate: Anytime things are going well, Rudy does this.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Rudy and Teeth both give one to each other at one point.

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