by Wendy Phillips


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Teen violence, bullying and the burning quest to fit in are presented in the poems of four unforgettable high school students: Natalie, Kyle, Tricia, Miguel. Their stories unfold in this explosive new book told in free verse. A story of teen angst like no other, it is based on fictional characters but is rooted in the realities of the teen experience.

When Natalie moves to a new high school she befriends three unwitting victims into her spider-web of manipulations, lies and deceit. Through the poetry and assignments of an English class we glimpse the world of the four teens. Natalie, whose alcoholic parents, years of neglect and ultimate rape by her father's friend has shaped her into a cruel and manipulative teen; Tricia, dealing with her blended family, is drawn into Natalies' forbidden world of partying and rebellion; Kyle, a would-be musician is in love with Tricia and Miguel who lusts for Natalie while hiding the secrets of his family.

The story weaves us through their poetry, their lives and culminates at a party where the four lives fishtail out of control. English class will never be the same.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781550504118
Publisher: Coteau Books
Publication date: 09/01/2010
Pages: 200
Sales rank: 1,042,959
Product dimensions: 4.90(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range: 12 - 18 Years

About the Author

Wendy Phillips leaves on Gabriola Island on Canada's west coast. Her first novel, Fishtailing, won several awards, including the Governor General's Literary Award for Children's Writing and the Moonbeam Award for Innovative Storytelling. Baggage is her second novel in verse. She has a journalism degree, has travelled extensively and has taught high school English.

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Fishtailing 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
thediaryofabookworm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Let me just start by saying I haven't read poetry (outside of books with a smidgen here or there, largely as chapter headers), since my University days; which, according to my resume, is starting to be some time ago. I wouldn't say I don't enjoy it, but I don't actively look for it. So when Coteau books sent me Fishtailing and I realised it was a collection of poetry making up a story, I was intrigued but not enough to bump it to the top of the pile.Don't make my mistake!Beautifully written, Wendy Phillips manages to capture the emotional turmoil of four very different teenagers who come together with an explosive ending. Natalie, battling with deep childhood scars, Miguel a refugee who has experienced horrors beyond anything anyone around him can understand, Tricia, trying to find her place in the world, and Kyle struggling with secret dreams and desires.The poems, interspersed with commentaries and memos from their English teacher Mrs Farr and their counselor Ms Nishi, although notably more accomplished then I remember anyone being in highschool, still manage to capture the turbulent emotions and sense of not belonging but wanting to I remember so well. Mrs. Farr's ignorant commentaries on the teenagers attempts to be honest about their problems through the poetry are clear reminders of similarly blind teachers at my Highschool. As a good student I had several teachers make derogatory comments about other students to me (some of them my friends) that even at the time I found shocking and surprising. Mrs. Farr sounds so like them in her notes it was as if she was plucked from my own Teenage experience.A really great read, I highly recommend Fishtailing as the counterpoint to the average persons to-be-read pile. And for those faint of heart people who think they can't wade their way through poetry, I assure you, it reads just as smoothly as your regular reading, no cole notes required!
cmcvittie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wendy Phillip's first novel comes out of the gates as a Governor General's Literacy Award for Children's Literature. This collection of poems tells the story of 4 teens struggling to deal with rejection, death, abuse and personal identitiy. The rebellion of Tricia, the manipulation and self-mutilation of Natalie, the pain of Miguel and the self-discovery of Kyle is observed and occasionally commented on by their counsellor, Ms. Nishi and their English teacher, Mrs. Farr. It rings entirely true in setting. As a high school librarian in British Columbia, the voice of the teachers is completely authentic. The voice of the teens is equally compelling, as their lives intertwine and head towards the tragic conclusion. For high school English teachers, this book is a must read for classes to share a new vision of poetry and reflection on teen life in schools today.