Math on Monday mornings,
Bullies in the gym shower,
Long-legged girls who ignore him…
Why would 13-year-old Josh want to be at school when he could be nestled into an almost-cave on the rocky seashore, wondering when his dad will come back again from his cargo ship voyages, when his strange cousin will move out, when anything in his life will make sense?
As his own translator from the Icelandic, Erlings captures this teen boy’s voice and ever-circling worries perfectly. Listen to the first three minutes of the novel here, as Josh wakes up on his thirteenth birthday and finds his long-traveling father’s gift.
What would you do with a stuffed falcon, staring at you from its tree branch perch those black eyes?
Book info: Fish in the Sky / Fridrik Erlings; translated from Icelandic by the author. Candlewick Press, 2012. [about the author] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My Book Talk: A stuffed falcon? That’s what Dad sent Josh from the ocean freighter for his 13th birthday? Yet another thing that’s not understandable in his universe, like why the girls allow themselves to be chased at recess or how no one stands up to the bullies who throw underwear in the showers after PE or why Mom lets his 17-year-old girl cousin move in with them.
She’s in trouble back home, this Trudy, and Josh is sure that it won’t be better at his house with her here. Mom has transformed his huge walk-in closet into Trudy’s room, so this girl who’s practically a stranger has to walk through his room to get anywhere!
School is even worse than being home: the agony of morning math with the headmaster, the giggling girls who send knowing looks but never walk with him during break time, the torture of PE class and the mean locker-room monitor and the bullies who pick on everyone different than them.
Josh decides that he’s learned enough for now and forges a series of excuse notes to stay away from seventh grade; if Mom weren’t so busy with two jobs, she’d do it, right?
How will Josh and Peter work on their film about falcons with Trudy barging in all the time?
And a growing guy needs his sleep; doesn’t that girl ever turn down her music?
Wait, it’s too quiet in Trudy’s space – has she snuck out after promising mom that she’d behave?
Dad’s calling from shore – why isn’t he on the cargo ships, like always?<
The confusion of becoming a teen and trying to understand other people wanders through Josh’s days and dreams in this coming-of-age novel, translated from the Icelandic by the author.