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4.0 

Shark Heart

By Emily Habeck
Shark Heart by Emily Habeck digital book - Fable

Publisher Description

A New York Times Editors’ Choice
A USA TODAY Bestseller
A Booklist Editor’s Choice
A Goodreads Choice Award Nominee

A “beautifully written” (Anthony Doerr, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of All the Light We Cannot See) debut novel of marriage, motherhood, metamorphosis, and letting go, this intergenerational love story begins with newlyweds Wren and her husband, Lewis—a man who, over the course of nine months, transforms into a great white shark.

For Lewis and Wren, their first year of marriage is also their last. A few weeks after their wedding, Lewis receives a rare diagnosis. He will retain most of his consciousness, memories, and intellect, but his physical body will gradually turn into a great white shark. As Lewis develops the features and impulses of one of the most predatory creatures in the ocean, his complicated artist’s heart struggles to make peace with his unfulfilled dreams.

At first, Wren internally resists her husband’s fate. Is there a way for them to be together after Lewis changes? Then, a glimpse of Lewis’s developing carnivorous nature activates long-repressed memories for Wren, whose story vacillates between her childhood living on a houseboat in Oklahoma, her time with her college ex-girlfriend, and her unusual friendship with a woman pregnant with twin birds. Woven throughout this “heart-wringing” (Adam Roberts, internationally bestselling author of Salt) novel is the story of Wren’s mother, Angela, who becomes pregnant with Wren at fifteen in an abusive relationship amidst her parents’ crumbling marriage. In the present, all of Wren’s grief eventually collides, and she is forced to make an impossible choice.

A sweeping love story that is at once lyrical and funny, airy and visceral, Shark Heart is an unforgettable, gorgeous novel about life’s perennial questions, the fragility of memories, finding joy amidst grief, and creating a meaningful life. This daring debut marks the arrival of a wildly talented new writer abounding with originality, humor, and heart.

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511 Reviews

4.0
Loudly Crying Face
Characters change and growLikable charactersMulti-layered charactersBeautifully writtenEasy to readOriginal writingMagical settingHeartbreakingRomanticThought-provoking
Thinking Face“‘Shark Heart’ follows the quirky tail of how Lewis and Wren’s marriage changes simultaneously with Lewis’ rapid metamorphosis from human to shark. Encompassing the structure of a play, the framework of the story plays around with arc structures and stage directions but hesitates to commit to the bit by installing choppy chapters that betray traditional play conventions. However, the format allows the tragedy of the narrative to play out by exploring how decaying mental and bodily states often impact marriages in a dramatised way by using an inhumane being. Furthermore, I didn’t feel as though the philosophical implications of change ventured further than ankle-deep which paled in comparison to the brilliance of the concept. ⭐️⭐️.5”
Characters change and growOriginal writingRealistic settingComing of ageHeartbreakingAbuseUnsatisfying ending
“This book is not what I expected and I’m not sure how I feel about it. First, I didn’t feel like the writing style was really for me. I could see how it would appeal, but I didn’t love it. Second, it got into things really quickly. I anticipated having more time getting to know Wren and Lewis as individuals and as a couple, but instead we jump right in and mostly view their relationship as flashbacks. To be honest, I found the second section about Wren’s mom to be the most interesting. I’m also not really sure what we gained as readers by Lewis’ shark section. There isn’t any closure between him and Wren so I don’t know why we needed to see what he was doing. And his section just kind of…ends. There was a faint through line of religion, but I couldn’t tell if it was supposed to be pro-religion or anti-religion so it mostly just felt random. Overall, I liked the hopefulness that this book ended with and the magical realism element was generally interesting.”

About Emily Habeck

Emily Habeck is an alumna of SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, where she received a BFA in theatre, as well as Vanderbilt Divinity School and Vanderbilt’s Peabody College. She is from Ardmore, Oklahoma. Shark Heart is her first novel.

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