Rio Youers, Mama Fish (Shroud Publishing, 2009)
Rio Youers is one of those names that sticks in the back of your mind. I first heard of him a few years back, but didn’t encounter any of his work until recently; a copy of Mama Fish popped up at my local Half-Price Books, so I grabbed it to see if any of the buss I’d heard was warranted. Short answer: yes. While Youers does get a bit overwrought during the climax, Mama Fish is a whole lot of fun, with a handful of very well-drawn characters and a classic plot with some fresh new twists.
Kelvin Fish is the classic high school outcast, mocked by his classmates and ruthlessly tormented, despite his only desire being to be left to his own devices. Patrick Beauchamp is another kid in the same high school who shares a few classes with Kevin. He’s not an outcast, per se; he’s more the invisible man, that kid who always sat in the back of your chemistry class, the one whose name you knew, but you never found out anything else about. Patrick is fascinated by Kelvin Fish, and thinks maybe he might be able to find himself a friend. But when you start associating with the school outcast, the wrong element ends up noticing you…
You know these kids. You went to school with them. And that’s what makes Mama Fish such a solid experience. As I said, he does go a little overboard once we get down to brass tacks, but that’s forgivable. There’s a whole lot to like about this book, and I suggest picking it up if you happen to run across a copy; good stuff indeed. *** ½