FeaturedContemporary Fiction

Fish Heads and Duck Skin

By

Loved it! 😍

A darkly funny diatribe and celebration of self-discovery in a foreign land

This is a darkly funny tale of a fish out of water, trapped in a woman on the edge of a nervous breakdown.


Hysterical, high-strung and hilarious, Tina's story rings true with many women who climbed up the ladder and couldn't figure out how to get back down. She feels the pressure of the "grandiose, expensive" lifestyle that trapped her in her career, and can't understand how others don't feel it too:


Why don’t you feel the weight of the world? You don’t seem miserable. Why aren’t you miserable, Jennifer?


She yearns for the peaceful, creative path the psychic mentions, despite not believing in that "hogwash":


If skepticism were a building, mine was a skyscraper. If cynicism were a horizon, mine was a skyline packed with doubt-riddled skyscrapers popping out of the ground like blades of grass after a spring rain, too many to count.


Tina is unwilling to bend, change or adjust; but the new culture into which she's crash-landed also isn't budging. In a stand-off against anything that China represents, Tina is on the losing end.


But as the months roll by, she finally finds her way once she accepts certain aspects of the expat lifestyle getting an ayi (domestic helper), enrolling her children in school, and gathering with other expats to play mah-jong. Most important, though, are her tai-chi lessons with her new friend, Mr. Han.


Mr. Han helps Tina to harness her energy energy she didn't know she had, far less how to use it. As she overcomes the challenges life throws her way, Mr. Han guides her how to do exactly what she told Daniel she wanted to do before they moved: to "be happy with exactly where we were at that very moment".


Fair warning: this is by no means a faithful representation of China, so some scenes may unsettle or offend. Tina's voice is unapologetically American "ignorant of abundance" as Mr. Han says; still, her zany moments are delightful though perhaps not to her poor exasperated husband. I would've loved to see even more of Daniel's challenges with the culture interlaced throughout. Also, as a reader I shared that struggle to be "happy in the moment" because the ending left me with so many questions, but the thing is: that was the point.


This novel takes you on a journey and an adventure through the eyes of a female protagonist who will resonate with many. It is unique and humorously heartfelt, with vivid imagery of a family finding itself amidst the unexpected. I would recommend to anyone, but particularly to women who enjoy a light read with a much deeper meaning. At its core, it is a diatribe and a celebration of self-discovery, or as Tina's friend Jennifer puts it:


Even this—questioning your life and your choices—this is incredibly brave.

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Author, editor (15+ yrs) & avid reader/reviewer. I provide fair, balanced reviews, but when I love a book, I LOVE a book!

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Chapter One

About the author

Lindsey Salatka is an award-winning author, editor, and ghost-writer. Her debut novel, Fish Heads and Duck Skin, will be available in July of 2021. DM her on Instagram, @mywhatlovelygillsyouhave or subscribe to her blog, Fishheadology, at www.lindseysalatka.com. view profile

Published on July 20, 2021

Published by She Writes Press

80000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Reviewed by