Precocious Danny is 4-years-old and lives with his beloved mom, Meemaw, in their derelict Sussex flat, struggling to get by. Besides Meemaw, Danny loves two things: his best friend, a plastic dinosaur named Spiny, and watching a dinosaur documentary on his mom’s cracked iPhone, Tale of a Tooth. Life is bearable for Meemaw and Danny until Karen comes into their lives. Meemaw is smitten with her, but Danny never warms to her, referring to her in the worst language he knows, a “horrible poo”.
Tale of a Tooth is a story of abuse and poverty, but also a tender story of love between a mother and son. Told through Danny’s perspective, the comparison to Emma Donoghue’s Room is inevitable, but, like Room, this child’s interpretation afforded a tenderness to an otherwise heartbreaking story. The reader also understands how Meemaw is feeling through Danny’s explanation of how her “color” is: red and pink when she’s first flushed with love for Karen, and later grey and brown when she’s reeling from betrayal and fear.
Though the subject matter is difficult, I enjoyed this book and Rogers’s finesse at presenting the effects of domestic abuse through the eyes of a child.
Many thanks to Edelweiss and Legend Times Group for this copy in exchange for my review.