The Opening Sky

Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
"Thomas is often compared to Carol Shields, Meg Wolitzer and Jonathan Franzen, but really slips into a category by herself [in The Opening Sky]. . . . [She] takes narrative risks [and] offers no typical solutions. But these risks are the most beautiful: they are the risks worth taking. This is a book worth reading." --Winnipeg Free Press

     A stunning character-driven novel about the human desire to do the right thing, and the even stronger desire to love and to be seen for who we truly are. Deeply felt, sharply observed, and utterly engaging.
     Liz, Aiden, and Sylvie are an urban, urbane, progressive family: Aiden's a therapist who refuses to own a car; Liz is an ambitious professional, a savvy traveler with a flair for decorating; Sylvie is a smart and political 19 year-old, fiercely independent, sensitive to hypocrisy, and crazy in love with her childhood playmate, Noah, a bright young scientist. Things seem to be going according to plan.
     Then the present and the past collide in a crisis that shatters the complacency of all three. Liz and Sylvie are forced to confront a tragedy from years before, when four children went missing at an artists' retreat. In the long shadow of that event, the family is drawn to a dangerous precipice.


1. Discuss the traumatic event that Sylvie witnesses as a child which heavily influenced the way in which she sees the world as young adult. Is it surprising to you that her parents, though aware of it, are unable to see just how much it affects her? Beyond Sylvie’s politics, do you think this childhood trauma...

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"Rich in detail and atmosphere.... Both in her Winnipeg setting and the depiction of complex family relationships, [Joan Thomas] channels the spirit of Carol Shields.... Compelling. It's an age-old tale made fresh through Thomas's evocative prose and the uncanny uniqueness of her lens." --Globe and Mail

"The Opening Sky is a sharply observed, unflinching portrait of the middle class in the 21st century. A beautiful, harrowing book." --Don Gillmor, author of the bestselling Mount Pleasant

"The Opening Sky is a marvel. In rich, meticulously woven prose, Joan Thomas confronts the painful paradoxes at the heart of a family, and reports back on both the darkness and the light.... I loved this book." --Alissa York, award-winning author of Fauna