A gorgeous 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 a college ex-girlfriend, and her unusual friendship with a woman pregnant with twin birds. Woven throughout this bold 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.
About the Author
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.
“A poignant tale of grief and change.” —Town and Country
“A bit Shakespeare, a bit Kafka, and a bit Disney… [this] debut stands out from the pack.” —Kirkus Reviews
"In Shark Heart, Emily Habeck doesn’t shy away from the agony of goodbyes, or the torture that can accompany unexpected freedom. With an otherworldly tenderness, she reminds us that life will always demand that we give over to its momentum and adapt. The fact that these lessons are thrilling, hilarious, and effortless to read are the miracle of the book. I suspect I will ponder this book over and over; so rich with fantasy yet as frank and real as anything I’ve ever read." —Mary Louise Parker, author of Dear Mr. You
Shark Heart is a fantastical, original, and beautifully-written novel of abandonment, love, and Ovidian transformation. It explores illness, caretaking, devotion, magical thinking, and loss—and of course great white sharks—in ways that are funny, sad, and surprising. Every page bursts with heart. —Anthony Doerr, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of All the Light We Cannot See and Cloud Cuckoo Land