“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 on Tucker’s debut, The Clay Girl
From the author of the Indie Next List pick The Clay Girl comes a deeply moving novel about the resilience of a remarkable young woman unraveling the mystery of a missing friend while struggling to grow past the trauma of her calamitous upbringing.
From the waning flower-power ’60s in Toronto through her East Coast university years, Ari fights to discover who she is and what it means to be the child of an addicted mother and depraved father. When her friend Natasha, the perfect girl from the nicest family, suddenly vanishes, Ari sets out to find out what has happened to her — are her troubled parents to blame?
With wit, tenacity, and the incessant meddling of Jasper — the seahorse in her head — Ari rides turbulent waves of devilry and discovery, calamity and creation, abandonment and atonement on a journey to find her true self, and to find Natasha.
Cracked Pots is a story about a girl broken by both cruelty and truth. It is a revelation that destiny is shaped in clay, not stone. It is also a celebration of rising after the blows, gathering the fragments, and piecing together a remarkable life through creativity, kindness, and belonging.
About the author
Throughout an eclectic career in community health, Heather Tucker gathered stories, now used as threads for spinning award-winning yarns. Her highly acclaimed debut novel, The Clay Girl, was an ABA Indie pick and a finalist for the Kobo Emerging Author and the Atlantic Book Awards. Heather lives in Ajax, Ontario.
Excerpt: Cracked Pots: A Novel (by (author) Heather Tucker)
The train slows. Mechanical wizardry, air and friction working together, will bring this massive locomotive to a precise stop. Mikey tells me this. At eight-years old, he loves the physics involved. Me? I just wonder how I’ll move my one-hundred-and-twenty-six pounds of cells through the warped space and time ahead.
I know where I am without clearing the window, still I wipe away the condensation. The familiar landmark comes into view. When I was eight, ‘JOHN 3:16’ was painted in big letters on the barn’s roof. Now, at sixteen, just rusty holes and a faint ‘OH 6’ remain. My Oh shit point on each journey back to Toronto. It’s here when I feel most stretched in two, pulled east, back to my aunts, to clay, to Jake—and—forced west, to chaos, to waste, to—
Bloody hell, Jasper, don’t start stirring this up again.
Outside, a girl races the train, hair flying like a charm of finches. Her hand lifts and— pop-pop-poppity-pop!
Mikey’s head snaps from the pillow. “What’s that?”
“Just a kid throwing firecrackers.”
“Where are we?”
Eight-hundred miles and four long months from Cape Breton. “Quebec.”
The passenger car is hot as soup. Mikey tucks-up, stretching a worn undershirt over summer-scraped legs. He studies my swollen cheek. “Does it hurt?”
“I… I heard Missus Butters tell Huey that the rockslide was an omen.”
Neck hairs startle-up with the draft from doors opening. “The Missus is always spinning shivery tales. It was just the heavy rains and growing roots that caused it.”
He scratches at mosquito bites on his neck. “Maybe so. Just seems off when water breaks rock. And, and… there was all that other stuff.”
William, the train’s steward directs a roly-poly man our way. “Well, little miss, look what I’ve found.” I’m years, and inches, past being little, but through all my rides, I can’t recall a trip where William hasn’t taken care of me.
A doctor, conscripted from somewhere on the train, plunks down, eying my cheek with half-spectacles. “Good gracious. What happened here?”
Mikey says, “A rock dinged her.”
“Now, who’d throw stones at such a pretty girl?” He opens his bag. “When’d this happen?”