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The Opening Sky

by Joan Thomas

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family life, literary
list price: $29.95
also available: Paperback
category: Fiction
published: 2014
  • Short-listed, Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award
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The breakout novel from award-winning author Joan Thomas, it perfectly balances the dark underside of modern life, love, and family with wit and sharp observation: for fans of Good to A Fault, the works of Carol Shields, of Meg Wolitzer, and Jonathan Franzen.
     A stunning character-driven novel about the human desire to do the right thing, and the even stronger desire to love and to be seen for who we truly are. Deeply felt, sharply observed, and utterly contemporary.
     Liz, Aiden, and Sylvie are an urban, urbane, progressive family: Aiden's a therapist who refuses to own a car; Liz is an ambitious professional, a savvy traveler with a flair for decorating; Sylvie is a smart and political 19 year-old, fiercely independent, sensitive to hypocrisy, and crazy in love with her childhood playmate, Noah, a bright young scientist. Things seem to be going according to plan.
     Then the present and the past collide in a crisis that shatters the complacency of all three. Liz and Sylvie are forced to confront a tragedy from years before, when four children went missing at an artists' retreat. In the long shadow of that event, the family is drawn to a dangerous precipice.

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Contributor notes

Joan Thomas’s debut novel, Reading By Lightning, won the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Book (Canada/Caribbean) and the Amazon.ca First Novel Award, and was longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Her second, Curiosity, was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the IMPAC award, and was a Quill and Quire Book of the Year. Joan was a longtime contributing reviewer for the Globe and Mail. She lives in Winnipeg. Visit her at www.joanthomas.ca

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Editorial Review

“Thomas’s principal achievement [is] her ability to stay faithful to the independence of her three central characters’ perspectives. . . . [Her] writing taps subterranean registers of feeling. Her characters toy with a dangerous question: Is love worth any personal risk? . . . Just as her characters take risks in love, Thomas takes narrative risks [and] offers no typical solutions. But these risks are the most beautiful: they are the risks worth taking. This is a book worth reading.”
Winnipeg Free Press
“Rich in detail and atmosphere. . . .  Thomas has a particular talent for dialogue revealing the intimacy between characters. Both in her Winnipeg setting and the depiction of complex family relationships, she channels the spirit of Carol Shields. . . . Compelling . . . evocative.”
—Globe and Mail
The Opening Sky is a sharply observed, unflinching portrait of the middle class in the 21st century. A beautiful, harrowing book.”
—Don Gillmor, author of the bestselling Mount Pleasant
The Opening Sky is a marvel. In rich, meticulously woven prose, Joan Thomas confronts the painful paradoxes at the heart of a family, and reports back on both the darkness and the light. This is a contemporary narrative, fully-wired with eco-anxiety and intergenerational strife, yet somehow a sense of the mythic pervades the tale. . . . I loved this book. It thrilled me with its fierce portrayal of how we strive and fail and sometimes even manage to love.” 
—Alissa York, award-winning author of Fauna

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About the Author

Joan Thomas

JOAN THOMAS’s first novel, Reading by Lightning, won the Amazon First Novel Award and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book, and was longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, among other honours. Curiosity, her second novel, was also nominated for the IMPAC Award and was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. Her most recent novel, The Opening Sky, was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction. Thomas was the 2014 recipient of the Writers’ Trust Engel/Findley Prize for a writer in mid-career. She lives in Winnipeg.

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