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The Clay Girl

4.37  ·  Rating details ·  2,101 ratings  ·  408 reviews
Vincent Appleton smiles at his daughters, raises a gun, and blows off his head. 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 to Cape Breton and her Aunt Mary, who is purported to eat little girls . . . With Ari on the journey is her steadfast companion, Jasper, an imaginary
Paperback, 347 pages
Published October 2016 by ECW Press
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alyssa I don’t believe so, in the acknowledgments in the back of the book she doesn’t mention any “based on true events” or anything, and the story is consid…moreI don’t believe so, in the acknowledgments in the back of the book she doesn’t mention any “based on true events” or anything, and the story is considered fiction. However in the acknowledgements it sounds almost like she works with abused kids or something? So maybe their stories helped inspire this one. (less)

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Average rating 4.37  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,101 ratings  ·  408 reviews

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Helene Jeppesen
Mar 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I can’t believe that I’d originally put this book aside to be unhauled, simply because I thought I’d lost interest in it. On a whim, though, I yesterday decided to give this novel a chance after all. It’s now the next day, I’ve finished it, and I’m now convinced that this is going to be amongst my favourite novels of 2018.
Ari is such a hero! She’s the protagonist of this story, and she’s really called Hariet with a spelling error because of her mother’s ignorance. Jasper is her imaginary seahor
Elyse  Walters
Aug 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
can scarcely believe you are her child. And what I know of your father I despise.
But I despise not a single hair of you, so you are far removed from any likeness to him as well". Len smiles down as he

The above excerpt is small sample of the writing style. Notice the quotation mark after
the word 'well'. Throughout this novel - there are many right side quotation marks.
I'm not familiar with this type of punctuation. I'm curious about it. Also sentences 'stop' as in the last sentence: "Len smiles
Jennifer (Insert Lit Pun)
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. This book has stunning language, a fantastic protagonist, wit galore, and heaps of sadness and struggle and joy. It's about building a family and an identity against the odds, and about the potential in people to be molded for good or evil by the forces both outside and within them. My only criticism is that I think there was a bit too much internal hero worship of the main character - I loved Ari to pieces, but it felt like every "good" character told her she was the best thing that ...more
Brian D.
Sep 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I just finished reading Heather's book, The Clay Girl. For some reason I can't contain my tears. I'm not ready to write a full review, but it's the best story I've read in a long time; once started, I couldn't put it down, and I really need to read the sequel. Even the author's acknowledgments at the end made me weep, thinking about losses and gains and the treasures we have in our own family.

Thank you, Heather, you're truly the best!

Do yourselves a favour, my friends, and read this book!

Full d
Acacia Ives
This book is written beautifully like nothing else I've read in this year possibly any other. The magic world of this story seen through the eyes of a child is done without fault and I am so happy to follow Heather from here on out! ...more
Tudor Vlad
May 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, historical
I don’t think I have ever read anything remotely similar to The Clay Girl. It was more lyrical than most poems and it had a dreamlike quality to it that had me enthralled. It was also at times confusing but I take the full blame for that. This is a book that required absolute attention as the prose is dense and every word counts, but for some reason my stupid brain liked to wonder when nothing of worth seemed to happen, I still had to reread some pages just to be sure I didn’t miss anything.

Sep 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
The first thing you notice about Heather Tucker’s The Clay Girl is the language. It is luminous. If this author is not a poet, she should be. There is sheer beauty in the choice of words and how they illuminate Ari Appleton’s story. Ari is eight years old – the youngest of six sisters – and her child-struggle with words that are beyond her ken adds to the whimsical feel of this novel.

Ari is a lioneagle who finds solace with her imaginary seahorse, Jasper, her trusted companion who never leaves h
Jan 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
“The Clay Girl” is worth the effort to get through the first 30 pages. Author Heather Tucker uses an eight-year-old girl, Ari, to tell her story of a family plagued by sexual abuse and cruelty. Because this amazing story is told from Ari’s point-of-view the reader must be patient with Ari’s parlance. Ari is clever and unusual so she sees things in unusual ways. Once the reader gets the rhythm of Tucker’s writing and Ari’s vernacular, this story is, well, spectacular.

Ari is the youngest of six s
Nov 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Amazing! I am in awe of Heather Tucker's writing and storytelling. The Clay Girl is one of the best books I've read and definitely in my top five for the year. This book is powerful, beautifully written, and nearly impossible to put down. Difficult and horrifying subjects flow through the narrative, but this story transcends those topics and ultimately leaves the reader feeling hopeful and so happy for the good people that come into Ari's, the main character's, life.

One bit of advice, do not gi
Jan 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: canadian-author
This is a wonderful story. Ari's life situation is a roller coaster with more deep dips than any person should ever encounter. A child shouldn't encounter the dips of Ari's life. Yet Ari, with the help of Jasper and some wonderfully good people, keeps her head afloat.
I listened to the audio version of this book. The story lends itself perfectly to this format. The prose is lyrical and rolling. The narrator, Morgan Hallett, captured the flow of the words perfectly.
This is a powerful story of the
May 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really, really liked this. It is written so whimsically and poetically that mundane or even horrible situations seem a little bit brighter. Ari is a spectacular character I loved getting to know. For a book so dark, there was always hope that never surrendered. I'm going to so enjoy rereading this! ...more
Maria Hill AKA MH Books
I triple dare you not to fall in love with Ari and her Jasper. Review to follow.
❀ Susan G
Apr 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Update: After a second read of The Clay Girl, this is a book that is beautiful crafted with hope and resilience despite horrendous abuse and sorrow. this is a book that needs to be read and pondered as we try and find the goodness in others!!

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 pond
The beginning of The Clay Girl by Heather Tucker was confusing, but I continued to read. Then Hariet (Ari) crept into my heart and compelled me to keep on reading.
This fictional story takes place in Cape Breton, Montreal and Toronto, Canada.

It is heartbreaking to know that there are actual families in the world like Ari Appleton's family. The author tells a moving story and has three-dimensional characters, some you want to hug and rescue, some you want to cheer, others you wish would die or b
Aug 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book was an emotional roller coaster from start to finish. It made my heart swell with love and happiness, it made it break from sadness, and it made me want to explode with anger, and it is easily one of the best books I have read this year! It is so hard to believe that this is Heather Tucker's first book. Her writing is truly musical - all the words just rolled through my mind like a song and I could easily go back and read it again just to write down my favourite quotes. And such amazin ...more
Jan 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved everything about this book. The main girl is so strong and perservers through so much hardship. The magical realism of her sea horse alter ego bring charm and validity to her strength of character. It truly takes a village to care for all of the children in this world who can be lost (even in the care of a parent).
If you read the book how do you see the future for Ari?
Sarah Swann
May 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wow! This surprised me. A heartbreaking story of a family that is beyond messed up. How the children of this family aren’t complete crazies is beyond me. Lots of hard topics are covered in here such as rape and child molestation. I loved Ari as a character and just wanted nothing but the best for her. And my favorite character was Jasper...the seahorse...
Elizabeth A
May 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
I haven't felt this way about a book in a long time. I loved everything about it and will re-read it, and I say that as someone who isn't a re-reader. I'm not sure I can put all my emotions into any coherent words, so this is the best I can do at this time.

Let me first start by saying that the Goodreads blurb and some reviews of this book give too much away. The slow reveal is part of what makes this such an amazing read.

This is the story of Ari, an eight year old girl who lives in Canada. She i
Kasa Cotugno
Ari's name is the only thing she can call her own. The youngest in a family with five other sisters, all with names beginning with J, she is officially called Hariet by her substance abusing mother. When their father kills himself in front of them, the six are scattered, Ari being sent to her loving Aunt Mary, living on the seaside with her partner. As this is the late 60's, gay marriage is far from being an institution, and her days on the coast do not last long. There is a lot of shifting of l ...more
Mandy O'Brien
Aug 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Thank you so much for the advanced reader copy of The Clay Girl. I have no words to express the emotional roller coaster that Heather Tucker took me on with her novel. Simply was beautiful. Thank you.
Dec 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
In the beginning it's hard to follow what is happening, but once I started to get into the story, I couldn't put it down. It's beautifully written, and I believe it's one of those books that I won't quickly forget! ...more
Feb 19, 2018 rated it liked it
I really wanted to enjoy this book since so many people whose book recommendations I admire raved about it, especially the main character, Ari. I, however, found Ari the most unbelievable character I've ever come across. Her boundless kindness, generosity and optimism (regardless of the trauma or difficulties she faces) was insufferable and so alienating. To me, she was not a "real" figure. Ari was a heroine with no chink in her armour, no fatal flaw, and actually no unsavoury characteristic to ...more
Megan Dittrich-Reed
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Holy crap, but this book knocked my socks off! I devoured it. I polished half of it off in one sitting yesterday evening and the other half this morning.

The language is what really hooked me. It was goddamn beautiful. It was some of the most lyrical writing I've read in a modern work of fiction in ages. I also friggin' loved the slight element of magical realism, as that's my jam.

The plot was great, too. I mean, it was heartbreaking and loads of horrible things happen over and over to these char
Aug 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
A tricky one to review this as the subject matter is so heartbreaking – Ari Appleton must have two of the most awful parents you could ever have the misfortune to meet. The dad is an incestuous pedophile and the mother an addict. Despite this however, the story is one of hope as Ari is a ray of sunshine and manages to write her own story and therefore her own history at the same time.

She also physically moves away from this background – the drug and sex fuelled days in 1960s and Toronto is not w
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa by: RW bookclub post
Shelves: audio
Wow! This is one beautifully written novel that is full of the most dysfunctional group of people I have read. Hariet, AKA Ari, is our narrator and main character and her head is full of poetry in the most interesting and unique sense of the word poetry. It's beautiful and I don't like poetry. She has the worst mom and dad and then a wonderful step father but everything falls apart around her and things are done to her that are terrible, but she also runs into the most "spectacular" people who h ...more
Aug 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
In "The Clay Girl," by Heather Tucker, Hariet, at 8 years old, discovers many things over an 8-year span, including a better name for herself: Ari. At the beginning of the story of the Appleton sisters, the girls have been scattered to different temporary homes because of a major, violent event - this event was not the beginning of the horror or the tragedy for the Appleton girls, but it wraps up one particular chapter which leaves lingering damage for each sister for many years after.

This beaut
Karen Cole
Sep 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing

Train journeys bookend the moving story of Ari Appleton, leading her to paradise or to hell on earth, or at least purgatory. But Ari is made of clay, and characters, good and bad, help mold her into a remarkable young woman. In Cape Breton where Ari’s heart lies, her Aunt Mary says, “Clay absorbs water, same as you soaking up everything in your path.”

Tucker’s extraordinary debut novel traces the journey of an eight-year-old girl who survived the trauma of watching her father kill himself, as she
Sep 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It’s hard to believe that Heather Tucker’s novel the Clay Girl was a debut novel and her first published. It was creatively written and Ari’s character well-crafted. Heather takes the reader on an emotional journey of discovery for a young girl over a period of 8 years and in Ari we are gifted with survival and personal evolution, in the face of the most obscene trauma and family dysfunction.

Ari’s unique take on life allows the reader to not only read about, but to feel her experiences in a bal
S.J. Clarke
Oct 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book took my breath away. This vulnerable little girl's story stays with the reader long after the book's ending. Evocative, engaging, heartbreaking - the journey invokes many emotions, and it's a journey one will never forget. Tucker's writing is lyrical and flowing and sweeps you away until she delivers the punch you never saw coming. Anyone who's ever suffered hardship and come out the other side, scarred and battle-worn, will find something to relate to in any of the Appleton girls. Eve ...more
Heather M Connor
Nov 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If you read one book this season, make it The Clay Girl. It's got "Giller" written all over it.

By rights, Ari Appleton should be broken. Her sisters are. Instead of shattering, this ugly duckling in a family of swans brings light to the darkness. Like a tie-dyed Anne Shirley, she claims and redeems the kindred spirits she meets along the way.

Heather Tucker has a fresh but groovy voice. She recreates the Toronto of my childhood with landmarks and language and psychedelic déjà vu.

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