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Fiction Ancient

We Should Not Be Afraid of the Sky

by (author) Emma Hooper

Penguin Group Canada
Initial publish date
Aug 2022
Ancient, Coming of Age, Contemporary Women
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2022
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2023
    List Price

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An epic, boundary-pushing tale of five young women rebelling against an era that relies on their submission, from the acclaimed author of Etta and Otto and Russell and James.

During the golden age of the Roman Empire, five girls enjoy a modest childhood in their small Portuguese village. They race each other through lemon orchards and pick fresh fruit for the commander who overlooks his people from a large house on the hill. Though the girls are all raised by different families, there is one thing they know without a doubt: they are sisters.

What they don’t know is that their simple existence is about to be irrevocably changed. When soldiers abduct them from their village and bring them to the commander, the sisters are suddenly forced to confront long-buried secrets that reveal their lives to be anything but ordinary. Burgeoning on womanhood just as the Empire begins to show signs of crumbling around them, they soon find themselves at the centre of a deadly standoff and must part ways to fight their own battles in order to survive.

One of Emma Hooper’s most compelling novels yet, We Should Not Be Afraid of the Sky is bursting at the seams with abstract miracles, devastating tenderness, hope, desire, and treachery—with life and death in all their glory. Demonstrating both the force and fragility of human nature, Hooper urges us to consider how we’ll each face our own final hour, to examine what the end really means: is it something to fear, or is it a daring leap into the blaze of a new beginning?

About the author


  • Long-listed, Carol Shields Prize for Fiction

Contributor Notes

Raised in Alberta, EMMA HOOPER is a musician and writer. Her debut novel, Etta and Otto and Russell and James, was an international bestseller and was published in twenty-four countries. Our Homesick Songs, her second novel, was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and named a Globe and Mail Best Book of 2018. As a musician she performs as solo artist Waitress for the Bees, a project which earned her a Finnish Cultural Knighthood. She has also performed with Peter Gabriel, The Heavy, her string quartet Red Carousel, and numerous others.She now lives in the soft green of England’s South-West, but comes home to Canada to cross-country ski as much as she can.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for We Should Not Be Afraid of the Sky:
On CBC’s “Fall reading list: 30 Canadian books to read now”
“[T]he breezy summer read [you] need to escape to a different time and place. . . . Even with themes of death, suppression, separation and starvation, Hooper keeps a sense of lightness and humour. . . . [There is] fierce bravery presented in myriad forms, whether it is to run from a life you don’t want, fight back, find a home, or love.”
The Globe and Mail
Global News
“[We Should Not Be Afraid of the Sky] delightfully details [the] lives of historical martyrs. . . . [A]n undeniably rich novel. . . . Hooper (now living mostly in England but deliciously attached to her Canada) is a writer to read carefully and to ponder significantly.”
Winnipeg Free Press

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