Everything is Teeth is Evie Wyld’s first graphic novel, illustrated by Joe Sumner. I read and loved Wyld’s last novel, All The Birds, Singing, earlier this year.
This is a memoir about some of Evie’s childhood spent visiting family in New South Wales. She becomes obsessed with sharks, seeing them stalk her through corn fields, nibbling on her toes dangling off the sofa, and imagining them eating her family that venture into deeper ocean than she would dare.
It’s a book about family – the quiet tensions and small moments. Evie’s obsession with sharks becomes a safe place for her brother, and for her to connect with her dad. But it’s also about that anxiety that lies beneath, that follows you everywhere, even if you ‘know’ it’s irrational to be afraid of sharks indoors, in Peckham. It feels very true of childhood anxieties, the big ones, that they are a fascination as well as a fear, and are often a displacement for the big adult fears that you aren’t ready for yet. In this sense it’s a book about growing up, about seeing danger or difficulty and learning how to cope with that when “everything is teeth” (every part of it can hurt you). But it is more complex than that – as Evie does grow up and learns that even though it can hurt you, it doesn’t mean to.
The illustrations are in black and white with a few muted colours except for the sharks following Evie which are more photographic. I really like this combination. It makes the sharks seem both more and less real at the same time. (The end papers are also great: lots of shark jaws.) The final double page spread – a single drawing and a single line – are the perfect example of how the illustration style and Evie’s sparse writing work so well together.
It has the feel and shape of a short story, in a good way, with the sparse yet moving writing style I liked so much in All The Birds, Singing. It’s quiet and moves slowly, with much more beneath the surface of the fin you can immediately see. And the end will bite you right in the chest. Funny that.