The Clay Girl

The Clay Girl

by Heather Tucker
  • debut
  • from-ontario
  • from-the-atlantic-canada
  • literary

Vincent Appleton smiles at his daughters, raises a gun, and takes his life. For the Appleton sisters, life had unravelled many times before. This time it explodes. Eight-year-old Hariet, known to all as Ari, is dispatched, along with her steadfast companion Jasper, an imaginary seahorse, to find refuge with her Aunt Mary, a potter. There she finds belonging and tranquility, but as the tumultuous sixties ramp up in Toronto, Ari is forced back to her twisted mother and fractured sisters, and a new stepfather, Len. Ari grows to adore Len and the severing is violent when her mother abandons him for a brutal man.

Through the sexual revolution and drug culture of the 1960s, Ari struggles with her father’s legacy and her mother’s addictions, testing limits with substances that numb and men who show her kindness. She spins through a chaotic decade of loss and love with wit, tenacity, and the astonishing balance unique to seahorses.

The Clay Girl is a beautiful tour de force that traces the story of a child sculpted by kindness, cruelty and the extraordinary power of imagination, and her families — the one she’s born in to and the one she creates.

In the tradition of Emma Donoghue’s Room, The Clay Girl takes us to some dark places. But the mesmerizing storytelling of Heather Tucker makes Ari an inspiring hero, and this debut novel unforgettable.


Heather Tucker, author

Heather Tucker has won many prose and short-story writing competitions, and her stories have appeared in anthologies and literary journals. The Clay Girl is her first novel.


  • It is the voice of the characters, the kindness of strangers and the ingenuity and determination of our protagonist against terrible forces that make this story sing. - San Francisco Chronicle
  • [A] triumphant debut novel […]. It is at times difficult to read, but this novel is worth every moment of pain and every tear. - Publishers Weekly Link to review

Rights Holder

Rights Holder: Westwood Creative Artists



rights sold: Croatia, English (World), Romania, Turkey

rights available: World

Additional Information

number of pages: 352

publication date: 10/11/2016

Original language of pub: English

Materials Available: finished book