"In a joyously original and unique novel, Emily Habeck explores the ambiguities of loss and grief by turning to the mystical. Lewis, a romantic playwright and high school theater teacher, is afflicted with a devastating condition: he’s mutating into a Great White Shark. While this isn’t a fatal diagnosis, the man he is will cease to exist once the transformation is complete. Wren, Lewis’s wife-turned-caretaker, is burdened with all of the roiling emotions that accompany such loss, along with the dangers of caring for someone who grows alarmingly more violent and dangerous. Told through many mediums, including dramatic scripts, flashbacks, and visions, Shark Heart is a whirlwind novel that skips across time and generations. And while the story itself is magical and otherworldly, the feelings it evokes are raw and relatable. Like many stories that begin in a place of hopelessness and defeat, it ultimately becomes a source of inspiration and strength."
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.