Born in the back seat of a car and named for a road sign, Carmel Fishkill’s first 12 years of life are filled with neglect and abuse.
After her grandfather’s death and her mother’s disappearance, she decides to refashion her image by switching her name and becoming Fishkill. She begins using violence to intimidate other students into giving her food. But when she tries her tactics on a new girl who calls herself Duck-Duck, she finds she has met her match and made a new friend. When Duck-Duck’s mother, Molly, presses her for details about her home life, Fishkill reluctantly admits that she has been living alone for months. Molly tries to help, but the reappearance of Fishkill’s mother, Keely, complicates everything. Keely is erratic, dangerous, and immature, but when Duck-Duck begins shunning Fishkill in favor of the popular girls, she might be her only option. A desperately sad story of profound abuse is softened somewhat by the highly intelligent Duck-Duck and her loving mother. But neither love nor grief is linear. Fishkill’s guilt, anger, and abandonment only intensify as the story unfolds, leaving her desperate and unsure where to turn. The characters seem to be default white, with diversity limited to the sexual orientation of some key characters.
Abuse is eclipsed by love in this moving novel. (Fiction. 14-18)