Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Shape of Water by Anne Spollen


"I had come to know silence well during those months after my mother died. When you sit in silence long enough, you learn that silence has a motion. It glides over you without shape or form, but with weight, exactly like water."

Magda's mother always said the world was full of strange and beautiful secrets only the two of them could see. But now she's gone and Magda's world is flooded with anxiety and loneliness—and maybe, madness. As an imaginary family of bickering fish begins to torment her, Magda's only outlet is starting beautiful but destructive fires in the marshes near her house.

The Shape of Water was a very memorable book. When I first began reading it, I had mixed emotions. I thought it was a bit on the strange side that Magda "saw" a family of fish. It took me some time to determine whether she was hallucinating or if they were her "imaginary friends." It turns out that while they were a figment of her imagination, I wouldn't use either of those terms to describe their relationship. When they started appearing less frequently, it helped clarify that Magda was learning to deal with her situation and come back to the real world. However, I would've liked to see more of an explanation of the fish.

The plot picked up somewhere in the middle when Magda's father starts dating again.

Magda was such a unique character. She had a way of looking at things that was all her own. Her thoughts were profound and insightful. It was interesting to watch her overcome her grief at the loss of her mother and slowly make her way back to reality. In the beginning, she can be described as "underwater." Eventually, she does move on and "resurface." I liked being able to see her grow as a person.

The ending wasn't necessarily all rainbows and smiles, but I liked it that way. You were definitely reassured that Magda was going to keep going and be okay. Really, that's all you need.

I wanted a novel with some depth that wasn't your run-of-the-mill YA book and The Shape Of Water delivered just that. I can honestly say it was different from anything I've read up to this point. This was Anne Spollen's first YA book and I think it was an impressive debut.

4 out of 5 stars

Recommended if you:

-want a book that's deep
-want something to make you think
-want an unusual, out of the ordinary read
-like books where one of the parents die and the child deals with thier grief
-liked Anne Spollen's other books
-are looking for a serious read


  1. This sounds really good! Because I read so much I am always happy when words like "memorable" and "unique" are included in book reviews and I make a note to pick up those treasures !! :) Great review!

  2. Great review. Like the comment above me, I read a lot, so unique books are something I love to read. Something that will stand out

  3. Wow, Katie -- where were you when I taught high school English?

    I've never commented on a review of my own writing before, but in this case, I'm going to make an exception!

    Great job on this!

  4. This sounds really good, I can't wait to read it. :)

  5. The cover to this book has always intrigued me, but there was never a synopsis on the back, so I never picked it up. I definitely want to after reading this review though! Thank you!

  6. This one sounds really different in a good way.

    ~bella aire~

  7. Sadly enough, many young adults can relate to certain elements in this strory. It's good to know there exists YA literature that doesn't shy away from the subject but addreses it in a creative and caring way.

    If you liked the "depth" and "different" aspects of this one, you may also enjoy Smoke and Mirrors by Lesley Choyce.

  8. This book sounds quite strange, but in a way that makes me want to read it. I like deep books. And the cover is absolutely beautiful!