Written by Nadia Bozak
Publication Date May 07, 2016
Spanning the late 1970s to the late 1980s, Nadia Bozak’s thirteen stories are narrated from the perspective of Shell, the only child of bohemian artisans determined to live off their handicrafts and uphold a left-wing lifestyle. At the age of five, Shell’s world is transformed when the family moves into a new house, where she grows up. Over time, she gradually trades her unconventional upbringing for junk food, rock music, and boys. All the while, Shell quietly watches her parents’ loveless marriage fall apart and learns to survive divorce, weight gain, heartache, and first love.
A funny, sensitive portrayal of the innocence and uncertainty of childhood and adolescence, Thirteen Shells is a true-to-life collection that is as unforgettable as it is poignant.
NADIA BOZAK is the critically acclaimed author of the novels El Niño and Orphan Love. She is also the author of The Cinematic Footprint: Lights, Cameras, Natural Resources, a work of film theory. She is Assistant Professor of English at Carlton University in Ottawa.
"Nadia Bozak’s coming-of-age snapshots are a gentle reminder of all that’s immediate and fleeting. Wistful, distinct, and full of life." Iain Reid, author of I’m Thinking of Ending Things
"Unflinching and forgiving, sentimental and unsparing. Nadia Bozak writes straight to the heart of girlhood, where secrets are both awkward and empowering, as childhood’s magic gives way to the discomfort of adolescence and a young woman comes into her own. Thirteen Shells is a beautifully written book." Teva Harrison, author of In-Between Days
"Thirteen Shells is a true-to-life account of a totally captivating character, another unforgettable work of fiction from [Nadia Bozak]" Owen Sound Sun-Times
"Bozak’s newest book, [is] all repressed heartbreak and wry humour…It is difficult not to be entranced by Shell" Ottawa Citizen
"There is a certain beauty in literature that only can be expressed through the naive, unsure nature of a child growing up amidst the razor edges of dysfunctionality. In Thirteen Shells, Ottawa author Nadia Bozak takes this to a new level by dulling these edges with the unassailable love of a girl for her parents…Shell is no angel. She lies and steals, at least a little. Experiments with drugs. And has her petty jealousies. But by the midpoint in the novel, the readers find themselves rooting for Shell, hoping that her dreams will come true. And that is the novel's brilliance." Ottawa Review of Books
"Bozak’s interwoven stories most obviously parallel [Alice Munro’s Lives of Girls and Women]. Both Shell and Munro’s women and girls come of age in extremely realistic fictional Ontario towns. Both can be broken down to stand alone as stories, or read through as a novel. Both focus less on a particular climax, and more on the ongoing understated crises of expectations: the ones we put on ourselves, and the ones other people have of us. Furthermore, both authors are masterful when it comes to language, churning out brilliant turns of phrase worth revisiting….Thirteen Shells quietly captures each painful gasp of growing up: the anxiety and shame, along with the treasures found along the way." National Post