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The Shark Curtain


In Scofield’s powerful debut, teenager Lily Asher takes her first steps toward a strange, loving journey to self-acceptance and belonging.

$13.95 $10.46

Available as an e-book for:

What people are saying…

Winner of the 2016 Paterson Prize for Books for Young People

“It’s easy to empathize with [Lily] . . . . Throughout, first-time author Scofield creates striking images that will stay with readers.”
Publishers Weekly

“This is a painful and poignant story that is not for every reader; but for those ready to deal with complex realistic fiction, it has much to offer.”

“Dynamic . . . [Protagonist Lily Asher] comes to glorious, heartbreaking, embraceable, vibrant life courtesy of the experiences, heart and immense imagination and talent of Eugene author Chris Scofield.”
The Register-Guard

“Chris Scofield has written a young adult novel that doesn’t compromise integrity for trendiness. . . . It’s complex and quirky . . . there can be no doubt as to its uniqueness.”

The Shark Curtain is worth a read by teens and adults alike.”
Eugene Weekly

“Absolutely bewitching. . . . Scofield has crafted a dense, poignant book, filled with extraordinarily beautiful language. . . . In exploring themes such as art, sex, and self-acceptance, Scofield examines the trade-offs we all make to be included in the tribe.”

“Those who prefer edgy period fiction with truly original characters will be fascinated by this glimpse into the mind of an unmedicated non-neurotypical teen struggling to come of age in the ‘60s.”
The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

The Shark Curtain . . . is believable and real.”
What Is Much

“Brilliant, engaging, engulfing, fulfilling, beautiful. The Shark Curtain will turn you inside out and make you see the world differently. As well you should. As well we all should. Because life isn’t about having the answers, it’s about grappling with the questions. Chris Scofield’s fantastically fantastic novel pins the tail on the donkey with a pneumatic nail gun—I absolutely insist that you read this book!”
—Garth Stein, New York Times best-selling author of The Art of Racing in the Rain

The Shark Curtain is a full-on adventure tale of the best kind. The heroine, Lily Asher, is a ‘weirdo’—a sweet, troubled, creative teenager who lives life through the lens of her hyperimagination. Regularly visited by the ghost of her dead dog as well as a tedious and melancholy Jesus, Lily struggles with her own bizarre behavior, puberty, and love for her dysfunctional family. The Ashers are going through what we all went through in the 1960s: the Vietnam War, race riots, the white patriarchy, bullies, death, and too much Valium. It’s Lily’s unusual voice that brings the story all together. Chris Scofield’s The Shark Curtain is a shout-out to all us grrrrrls. Hooray!”
—Tom Spanbauer, founder of Dangerous Writing

“You’ve never met anyone like The Shark Curtain‘s Lily Asher. With Jesus as her smart-aleck companion, a dead dog as her guide, a sister who thinks she’s a ‘weirdo,’ and parents absorbed in their own drama, Lily leads you wildly through her imagination, her dreams, and the crazy roller coaster of her teenage years. With deep wit and endless invention, Chris Scofield has created a girl—and a story—unlike any other. Read this book and experience its wonder.”
—Miriam Gershow, author of The Local News

“In The Shark Curtain, Chris Scofield offers us a rare pleasure: a startling and original heroine, Lily Asher, whose quest to understand and experience the world around her is second only to her journey inward, where she grapples with a menagerie of family members, animals, historical and religious figures, and pop cultural icons in a series of both real and imaginary encounters. These twisted and sometimes absurd relationships allow Lily to grasp fleeting and brilliant truths about the human condition, the problem of death, what it means to be ‘crazy,’ what it means to be ‘normal,’ and our very real need for love and acceptance, no matter who we are.”
—J.L. Powers, author of This Thing Called the Future


Part of Akashic’s Black Sheep YA imprint.

Set against the changing terrain of middle-class values and the siren calls of art and puberty, The Shark Curtain invites us into Lily Asher’s wonderful, terrible world. The older of two girls growing up in suburban Portland, Oregon, in the mid-1960s, her inner life stands in quirky contrast to the loving but dysfunctional world around her.

Often misunderstood by her flawed but well-intentioned parents, teenage Lily orbits their tumultuous love affair, embracing what embraces her back: the ghost of her drowned dog, a lost aunt, numbers, shoe boxes, werewolves, rituals, and stories she pens herself (including one about a miscarried sibling she dubs “Frog Boy”). With “regular” visits from a wisecracking Jesus, an affectionate but combative friendship is born—a friendship that strains Lily’s grasp of reality as much as her patience.

From the violence of a Peeping Tom and catching Mom in flagrante delicto with the neighbor, to jungles in her closet, butlers under her bed, and barking in public, Lily struggles to balance her family’s expectations with the visions that continue to isolate her.

Read a feature on The Shark Curtain in The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR) and at Snowflakes in a Blizzard.

Check out Chris Scofield’s essay at NW Book Lovers exploring her writing process and her relationship with her protagonist, Lily Asher.

Read a letter from Chris Scofield to her teen self at Dear Teen Me.

Read an interview with Chris Scofield at Literary Ashland.


Book Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Published: 4/7/15
  • IBSN: 9781617753138
  • e-IBSN: 9781617753695


CHRIS SCOFIELD is a novelist and short story writer. She’s worked with authors Ursula K. Le Guin and Tom Spanbauer and is a former special education, art, and preschool teacher. Scofield studies cello, travels internationally, and lives in Eugene, Oregon, with her husband and two goldfish. She is the author of The Shark Curtain, winner of the 2016 Paterson Prize for Young People. Visit her website, ChrisScofieldAuthor.com.

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