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Our unnamed and heartbreakingly relatable protagonist skkkrt-ed through school and it’s webs of appearance guilt, before escaping to the big city of LDN for “new beginnings”. Like Saltwater (also by Andrews, also loved), Milk Teeth has a dreamlike and meandering character-based plot. Across its blissfully sprawling passages detailing scenes from different cities, what anchors the novel is its exploration of how hunger, class, desire and gender are interlaced .
She tells us that she ‘didn’t know what to do with all that want as it swelled in me like a river’, and the novel very much reads like a rumination on this dilemma. The friendships were stupidly realistic, with drifting apart, with parties that make your eye twitch thinking about now, and with so much love and dependency. At the time the author of Saltwater, which I had read and loved, was living in Barcelona, working on her next novel. Milk Teeth explores what happens when the protagonist presses up against those norms, begins to dismantle all her learned behaviours, all her shame, and begins the process of articulating her desires. The diet culture discussed was equally devastating and hilarious, and I urge any 90s babies to read for these parts alone.In all the ways we try to voice things out of the body, exorcising them through all our guilts, dissatisfactions, traumas and then some, what is that very next step? i will forever be grateful to her divine prose and her incredible ability to capture parts of my life, childhood and adulthood that were so familiar it were as if they came from my own mind. If you would like to experience Milk Teeth without suffering through all 248 pages of it, you can read my abridged version below.
At one point her well-intentioned, poetic but unintuitive boyfriend attempts to sooth her by dismissing her attitude towards food as "not a big deal.throughout, aspects of class are highlighted and much of andrews' prose is deeply relatable and smarting. the key themes were body image and diet culture, sexuality, identity and coming to terms with who you are and what you want. Her equally nameless lover is an academic who, soon after meeting her, is offered a position in Barcelona. I personally find this kind of writing style incredibly clumsy, ugly and embarrassing, but I am sure this will appeal to many people. Sensual and wryly perceptive, the acclaimed author of Saltwater delivers a deftly wrought and emotionally devastating account of a life lived in the shadows and a potential salvation in the Mediterranean sun.
Through a mosaic of memory and nostalgia, we observe as our unarmed protagonist navigates both her past and present. She meets her (also unnamed) partner in London, follows him to Barcelona, but interspersed with the chronology of this are memories of her earlier life, growing up in the north east of England to a backdrop of diet culture and celebrity ‘heroin chic’, moving to London, then becoming a nanny in Paris, scraping an existence and skipping meals. This is because, unlike her own, ‘their needs were thoughtless because they had the means to meet them. Nor as the woman who relates to that sense of never being whole, never being enough, while wanting nothing more than to let someone else fill me up and decide where life goes next.
With unironic uses of stars and constellations that propel plot and navigate our narrator, I'm not quite sure how many filtered sunsets I needed to read through to get to any meaning whatsover. Andrews could go two ways for people: that one vsco girl tumblr poet who still sees the world in 2008 Instagram sepia or an emerging voice trying hard and true in making reading a rich experience for future Urban Outfitters readers.