THE SHAPE OF WATER by Anne Spollen
Kirkus Star


Age Range: 14 & up
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Magdalena, 15, is drifting into mental illness, letting go of the scaffolding of daily life and grieving for a mother lost to her own madness. At once arrogant and bereft, Magdalena loses her one friend and distances herself from her worried father and aunt. Her identity, even her name—she answers to Lena, Meggie, Maggie, Magda—is shifting, tenuous. From her decaying Staten Island home, drawn to the ocean she once explored with her mother, Magdalena surrenders to hallucinations that distract her from what she calls “the standard”—the banal routines, imperfections, obligations of ordinary life. Yet she senses that though lacking magic, that standard holds survival and healing. Encounters with other wandering souls help, but she still has a long, dangerous swim back to shore. Spollen interweaves elemental, evocative images of what is formless and boundless—water, air, grief, death—with what is solid and limited—earth, objects, human love and forgiveness. This enchanting novel starts quietly, draws the reader in and weaves a seductive spell that holds until the last page. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: April 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-7387-1101-0
Page count: 312pp
Publisher: Flux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2008