Every once and a while, a book that is unknown and that comes with no pre-conceived expectations blows me away. The Clay Girl is an amazing story, sadly disturbing yet hopeful. It is a book that I will continue to ponder and marvel at Hariet’s strength and resilience. The point of view is unique and it is beautifully written (not to mention the sea horses that mark the pages).
The novel was introduced to our book club by our friend Shannon who had not read it but heard a glowing review from a friend. We are thrilled that Heather Tucker has accepted an invitation to join our book club for dinner tonight!
We had been warned that the first part of the book might be a bit confusing. I admit that I read the first 30 pages before bed and needed to reread those same 30 pages the next day. Whether I had jut been too tired for my first reading or needed to repeat the text to get acclimated to Hariet’s (also known as Ari) voice, it was worth a second read and once I got in the groove of the narrative, I could not put the book down!
The cover shares that Hariet and her sisters were impacted by their father who had “blown his head off” although the reader must try and understand the death through Hariet’s eight year old eyes. The trauma lead to the redeployment of the six girls to stay with various friends and family. Hariet (and Jasper, her imaginary seahorse) travel to Cape Breton to stay with Aunt Mary and her partner Nia who are known to “eat little girls” yet who share love, kindness and a sense of stability that Hariet had never known.
Hariet is forced to the return to the drama and dysfunction under her mother’s care. The reader is gutted by the descriptions of abuse and neglect yet feels hopeful for Hariet who is resilient and bright. She meets heroes along the way who encourage, love and support and encourage her to thrive despite her horrible home life.
The Clay Girl is not an easy read but I am shocked that it has not been promoted widely. I can’t help but pondering Fall on Your Knees, a book that I read many years ago with a similar disturbing storyline. I am surprised that The Clay Girl has not been discussed with the Goodreads CanadianContent group and I will be sharing my recommendation.
It is a story that anyone working with children and families should read. Health professionals and teachers need to think of this story as they help children through their struggles and encourage their potential.
Prior to meeting the author, I reviewed her website and was not surprised to learn that she has worked as a teacher, a nurse in both public health and psychiatry as well as a bereavement counsellor. Tonight will be a fun evening and the discussion should be lively as our book club is well-represented by teachers and health care professionals.
Still not sold? Check out the trailer for Clay Girl.