Silence is Goldfish

My reading over the Christmas and New year period was eclectic.  First of all the bestseller The Girl on the Train which was a page-turner but ultimately as unsatisfying as a hurried slice of toast for breakfast.  Then there were the research papers on the experiences of donor conceived adults towards my talk at the BFS on Friday.  My husband gave me John Cross’s book about Arsene Wenger but there is so much even a devoted Arsenal fan like me can read about dressing room culture and transfer fees.  What really turned me on was an extraordinary new book featuring as incidental characters DC Network and the HFEA and starring a fifteen year old girl.  Silence is Goldfish details what happens when Tess, who is donor conceived but has not known this before, accidentally reads the beginning of a blog written by her dad.  I really, really don’t want to spoil the story for anyone who decides to read this exceptional and unusual book, but let’s just say that a child’s torch, shaped like a goldfish, helps Tess express herself when she is unable to do so by other means.  The adolescent emotions and behaviour  of both Tess and other teenagers at her school feel authentic, although sadly I suspect cyber as well as face to face bullying would likely feature in a real-life scenario.

I think this book is intended for young adults – and I can see it being of interest to a much broader audience than donor conceived teenagers – but I read it as a cautionary tale for parents.  This is what might happen if you don’t face your own difficult feelings and understand that ‘telling’ early is vitally important for your child…and the whole family.

If you’d like to read more, the Guardian’s reviewer was ecstatic –

Silence is Goldfish by Annabel Pitcher, published in the UK by Indigo


About oliviasview

Co-founder and now Practice Consultant at Donor Conception Network. Mother to two donor conceived adults and a son conceived without help in my first marriage.
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9 Responses to Silence is Goldfish

  1. Sounds like an essential read – ordered! Thank you for sharing and Happy New Year

  2. whosedaugther says:

    Will order! Here’s a classic for you…The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Not about “donor” conception directly – more about how everything is connected. Happy New Year!

  3. gsmwc02 says:

    I maybe out of my element here but based upon experiences of donor conceived people I’ve read I believe that being supportive of your child is just as important as telling them earlier. I’ve noticed some that have been told early still experience pain when a non biological parent has rejected them or not been supportive of them. It’s heartbreaking to here it when it happens.

    • oliviasview says:

      In Silence is Goldfish Tess’s dad is very supportive of her. He was her primary care-giver for the first two years of her life and has been more than a good-enough dad since, but he still didn’t find it possible to be open with her. He later regrets this very much.

      • marilynn says:

        I am curious to hear more about why you believe bullying would occur either on line or in person to a person who is growing up with an absent parent. Kids will pick on anything, but it is very common these days for kids to have unmarried parents who don’t live in the same house. Granted when one of the unmarried parents had them while working as a donor it means they are nearly as out of the picture and unknown as had they been just a one night stand. But still, it’s sadly become so common that I’m surprised that you feel it would be fodder for bullies. I have not heard any of my friends talk about bullying related to them having absent parents or being raised by adoptive, social or step parents. Kids can be mean but I did not know this was a popular bully target. If so that’s sad.

    • marilynn says:

      When you say ‘supportive’ do you mean after telling them they are not empathetic to whatever the kid expresses or are you talking about physically offering financial support a roof food?

      • oliviasview says:

        Tess doesn’t have an absent parent. Her parents are happily married and at home with her. She is bullied for other reasons…the way she looks and the way she behaves, which is in response to reading her dad’s blog.

        I mean emotionally supportive and doing everything for her that a good dad would do (other than tell her about her beginnings).

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