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BOOK REVIEW: Everything is Teeth by Evie Wyld, Illustrated by Joe Sumner

| 8 August 2015 | 1 Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Everything is Teeth by Evie Wyld, Illustrated by Joe Sumner

Knopf
August 2015
Hardcover, $39.99
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell

9/10

9780857989154-everything-is-teeth

Evie Wyld was a girl obsessed with sharks. Spending summers in the brutal heart of coastal New South Wales, she fell for the creatures. Their teeth, their skin, their eyes; their hunters and their victims.

Everything is Teeth is a delicate and intimate collection of the memories she brought home to England, a book about family, love and the irresistible forces that pass through life unseen, under the surface, ready to emerge at any point.

 

Warning: This graphic novel contains images of animal and human death and injury, some imagined, some real.

When Evie’s brother gets a shark’s jaw for Christmas, she is fascinated. She finds a book about shark attacks and learns of Rodney Fox’s experience; how his abdomen was opened and all his ribs broken. His diaphragm punctured, lung ripped open, shoulder blade pierced, spleen uncovered…

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Stuck in the mouth, wrestling your thumbs into its eyes till it lets go, and you feel yourself loose in your skin suit.

The Shark is gone and people are nudging your guts back inside, and when you wake again it hasn’t changed your face.
It is all fine.

I solemnly understand you to be the greatest living man.

From that moment on, she makes up stories about herself and her schoolmates being attacked by sharks, and reads the two books on sharks she is able to find at the library back in England. She imagines sharks everywhere, even baths are difficult for a while.

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The writing and images within this graphic novel fit perfectly together.

The writing is simple, yet engaging, giving the perfect level of description and letting the illustrations do the rest of the talking.

The juxtaposition of cartoon-like people and the illustration of sea creatures so gorgeous they could be photographs serve well to help the reader understand Evie’s obsession. The creatures within these pages are so beautiful, menacing, and sleek that you can’t help but adore them, and maybe be a little wary of what they might do, given the chance to get you within reach of their teeth.

 

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They caught parrot fish and snapper, trevally and coral-cod.

 

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As quickly as it started, it stopped and everyone watched mutely as a tiger shark, pale blue and clean, bigger than the boat, passed under, its fin skimming the hull.

My father’s line snagged on the shark, and the rod broke clean in two, rapping him on the knuckles. Hard.
As if to say…

DON’T TOUCH WHAT YOU CAN’T AFFORD.

 

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She is fat with young, and when she’s cut open they lie in dead rows.

They look like puppies, soft and smooth and slippery.

 

This is a gorgeous book, through and through.

It deals with all manner of half-remembered moments from childhood; from family gatherings, to Evie’s father’s inability to keep his English skin free of sunburn; from spending time with her father when the rest of the family go fishing without them, to the frequency of her brother coming home with a bruised face or bleeding nose.

But at its heart, this book really is a tale of obsession; about how it finds its way into every aspect of your life, about how you can’t get it out of your mind, even when you’re sleeping. And the other tidbits of memory only help to make this whole story feel more real, more relatable, especially for Aussie readers.

 

Stephanie O’Connell

Category: Book Reviews, Other Reviews

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