Milk Teeth is the stunning new novel from Jessica Andrews, the author of the Portico Prizewinning Saltwater. On the surface it might seem like Milk Teeth is a straightforward love story, half the novel is addressed to ‘you’ the object of the narrators’ affections, but this is just one of the strands of story that is braided into this novel. There are also vivid reflections on childhood and the oppressive demands made on young women, to look, talk, and act a certain way. The narrators’ awareness of her class background and her financial precarity haunt the story, food also plays a crucial role, the meals that the central couple eat together are lovingly described in perfect detail. Food is partially used as a metaphor for embracing desire, allowing oneself to have what you want the most without guilt, without starving yourself in penance. In a way the love story is between the narrator and her own self, Milk Teeth asks what does it mean to embrace love, change, to put yourself and your own desires first?
This is a beautifully written feminist read for the Summer. In a time when cool, spare prose is the dominant mode, Milk Teeth is hot, physical and sensory. I highly recommend this in particular for fans of Elena Ferrante and Sally Rooney.