"Skin Room is an unflinching love letter to heartache, the far north, late nights in downtown St. John's, family dysfunction and the slim possibility of redemption. Sara Tilley manages despair, slapstick and all registers in between with equal skill and grace. A completely convincing voice and a terrific book." -Michael Crummey
"Ostensibly about a twelve-year old in the North and her twenty-something self in the arts scene of St. John's, this debut book is really about one thing: the possibility of prose performance. Sara Tilley has crafted an internally consistent novel that has linguistic pizazz, cuffs language upside the head, achieves poetry without the obliqueness that often clogs the arteries of prose in this country, all without losing sight of delivering a good yarn...I think Sara Tilley might be the next big thing - bona fide - from Newfoundland." -Shane Neilson, The Fiddlehead
"In the acknowledgments to this striking debut, Sara Tilley says her story is inspired by "sense memories" of her childhood in a remote Inuit village. The result is a quickly engaging, sometimes meandering, finally heartbreaking novel of sexual awakening, seen from the alternating vantage points of pubescent child and wounded adult...The minimal dialogue here is perfectly pitched, subtly expressing vocal cadences unique to each culture. The desire looping between smitten young white girl and native teen pulses in their words, tenderness and danger all bound together...I used the word "heartbreaking." It's much more complicated than that, and more rewarding. Willasie and Teresa are pawns to their surging needs. Teresa is the one who gets hurt; then the wielders of judgment twist the knife. Finally abandoning her elaborate telling, Sara Tilley beautifully shows the cost of our erotic confusions." -Jim Bartley, Globe and Mail
"Skin Room is a messy story, beautifully and searingly presented. With slow and exquisite precision, Tilley reveals a depth of pain so great that it threatens to overpower Teresa's need to find comfort and redemption...Skin Room is a modern tragedy, arguably in the classical sense, and Tilley has written a story that lingers." -Rosalie MacEachern, Atlantic Books Today
“Tilley relates – with a sense of beauty, wonder and honesty – the story of a 12-year old white girl, Teresa, thrust into a remote Nunavut village….the journey is fascinating, sad and compelling. It is difficult to pull away from Tilley’s descriptions of fields of ice and hoped-for glimpses of narwhals, of dreamscapes filled with polar bears, caribou juices dripping down chins…Teresa of the North has a tender, angry, broken-child story to tell, and when she finally pursues her love, her wisdom and romanticism ache on the page…” -Christina Decarie, Quill and Quire
"I’m reluctant to call the book a coming-of-age story because that phrase typifies a kind of self-discovery of sexuality thing for women, but this story is the real coming of age story. It’s heartbreaking and sometimes disturbing, but always presented with a deliberate sense of honesty. Because of this, it is a difficult narrative to enter in to...however, having read every last page, I can tell you it’s well worth pressing on." -Katelynn Schoop, The Danforth Review
"Sara Tilley's first novel is a double-vision narrative of interior and exterior landscapes in the face of a disrupted childhood...it is an admirable and engaging story. Teresa's characterization is nuanced and thought-provoking. The oscillating voices of the pre-teen Teresa and the twenty-something Teresa are beautifully distinct, yet inseparable. The story does not minimize her victimization at the hands of Willassie, nor does it condemn her complicity. Readers familiar with St. John's will enjoy Tilley's pointed use of common sites and settings, her sardonic and deflating attitude towards touristic heritage enterprises and her surprising and delightful meditations on the art world. This is a profound story of emergence from childhood trauma, and its avoidance of salaciousness, predictability and didacticism make it an engrossing read." -Shannon Fraser, Newfoundland and Labrador Studies
Skin Room was the winner of the Percy Janes First Novel Award and the Fresh Fish Award for Emerging Writers, and was shortlisted for the Winterset Award and the Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Prize.