Caitlin Hicks is an author, international playwright, and acclaimed performer in British Columbia, Canada. Monologues from several of her plays were featured in Smith & Kraus’ series Best Women’s Stage Monologues (New York). She also wrote the play, later adapted for the screen, Singing the Bones, which debuted at the Montreal World Film Festival to stellar reviews and has screened around the world. While A Theory of Expanded Love is her debut novel, she has published several short stories, including That Rescue Feeling, shortlisted for the John Spencer Hill Fiction Award. She worked as a writer for CBS and NBC radio and has performed her fiction and non-fiction for CBC national radio. In print, her writing has been published in The San Francisco Chronicle, The Vancouver Sun, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Fiddlehead Magazine, Knight Literary Journal and other publications. Hicks is a former member of Playwrights Guild of Canada and a current member of The Writer’s Union of Canada and Federation of British Columbia Writers. She was raised in a large, Catholic family in Pasadena, California.
Hicks’ debut novel A THEORY OF EXPANDED LOVE offers a humorous yet poignant exploration of religious doctrine, family tensions and adolescence, as seen through the eyes of 12-year-old Annie Shea in the last six months of 1963.
As one of thirteen children in her Catholic family in California, Annie constantly vies for attention. She gets it when family friend Cardinal Stefanucci is unexpectedly shortlisted for first American pope, and Annie uses association and exaggeration to increase her family’s status, until – guilt ridden – she is tortured by her own dishonesty. But when ‘The Hands’ visit her in her bed and her sister finds herself facing a scandal, Annie discovers her parents will do almost anything to uphold their reputation and keep their secrets safe.
Questioning all she has believed and torn between her own gut instinct and years of Catholic guilt, Annie takes courageous risks to find salvation in the tragic sequence of events set in motion by her parents’ betrayal.
Humorous and poignant, the popular novel garnered three top industry reviews: Kirkus, Foreward Reviews and Publisher’s Weekly as well as many 5 star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads in 2015. It rated as iBooks Best New Fiction in 2015 and became a 5 star Reader’s Favorite. The novel made two industry lists as ‘Must Read’ for 2015.
Hicks is a strong performer and celebrated playwright and offers entertaining readings & character performances in libraries, bookstores, high schools and other locations where reading and literacy are promoted.
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“Annie’s disarming voice evokes nostalgia for a bygone era and hope for humanity in a weary, modern world.”
Foresight: Debut Fiction
“Hicks adopts Annie’s precocious voice skillfully and draws from it self-effacing humor, spiritual bargaining, and enough charm to fill the corridors of Vatican City twice over”
Caitlin Hicks begins this story of tradition and redemption in the months leading up to Kennedy’s assassination, when all manner of possibilities seemed open to good little Catholic girls. Ensconced in the middle of a noisy Irish family of fifteen and perched at the edge of her teen years, Annie Shea knows that she’s on the cusp of spiritual greatness. She weaves tales of her heavenward ascension for awed classmates, trading on the potential papacy of a family friend and her maybe-vocation as a selfless bride of Christ.
Yet, Annie discovers that even very blessed Catholics are sometimes faced with tribulations. Hers begin with an uncovered and faded photograph of her mother in a wedding gown, standing next to a soldier who is most definitely not her father. Propelled by a thirst for the truth (and maybe even an older, less nettlesome sibling), Annie makes her way through the forbidden channels of family history. When her eldest sister finds herself facing a scandal, Annie alone will be equipped to discern the righteous choice from amongst the many, mostly straight-laced options available.
Hicks adopts Annie’s precocious voice skillfully and draws from it self-effacing humor, spiritual bargaining, and enough charm to fill the corridors of Vatican City twice over. This is an involving tale of religious evolution that reminds us that good faith is what sometimes grows out of defying convention and braving the unknown.
Publishers Weekly, April 14, 2015
“This worthy debut has a disarming humor”
Playwright Hicks’s debut novel spans the latter half of 1963. For 12-year-old narrator Annie Shea, that period’s turbulent events—the election of a new pope, the Equal Pay Act, and J.F.K.’s assassination—reflect and shape the changes taking place in her body and soul. Initially she’s willing to lie to bolster her family’s reputation as good Catholics, but she gradually awakens to the hypocrisy in the church and in her family life, in which impressing a visiting priest is more important than tending to a screaming baby in a wet diaper, bragging about the number of children one has is more important than cherishing them, and nightly sexual abuse goes unpunished. When one of her twelve siblings is sent to a convent home for unwed mothers, Annie presses her family to live according to the dubious theory they espouse: that with each new life, there will always be more love to go around. Annie’s insistence on truth telling restores connections and strengthens her own resolve to continue to “say what I see—not just what they want me to see.”
This worthy debut has a disarming humor. (June)
I just finished reading A Theory of Expanded Love by author Caitlin Hicks and I have to say, I absolutely loved this book. Follow the story of spunky, 12-year-old Annie Shea, one of thirteen children in a very traditional Catholic family in 1963. Pope John has just died and President Kennedy has been assassinated, and life in the Shea family is about to change as well. When Annie’s sister gets pregnant out of wedlock and her parents are willing to do just about anything to protect their reputation as a “good Catholic family,” Annie realizes that it might be up to her make things right for her sister and her family, but to do that, she has to challenge everything she’s ever known.
As I said earlier, I simply loved this book. Loved it. Caitlin Hicks has done an absolutely masterful job at creating a book that is funny, fun, heartwarming, and just an absolute joy to read. I read A Theory of Expanded Love straight through from beginning to end without a single break. I just could not put it down. But I was sad when it was done. The characters, and especially young Annie Shea, are written so realistically that by the end of the reading, I truly felt that I knew them, and I was so very sad to say goodbye. A Theory of Expanded Love is a book that would appeal to any reader. Period. Any reader who loves great writing should read this book. This is the first book that I’ve read by author Caitlin Hicks, but it certainly won’t be the last. I am eagerly awaiting the next book by this extremely promising author, and I hope she’s hard at work on it already!
Reviewed By Tracy A. Fischer
Carol Shaben, writer, author of INTO THE ABYSS.
5 star review
“I finally found time to finish your book. Wowza!!! It was awesome. Congratulations on an unforgettable character and page-turning story. It deserves every accolade.”
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