Praise and Reviews

Critical Reviews

A Quill and Quire Favorite of 2012.
NOW Magazine Top Ten Book of 2012.
A National Post Canadian Favorite of 2012.
A Coast Top Books of 2012.
An top 20 books of the year (so far) for 2012.
CBC Books Summer Reading Selection 2012.

The title of Toronto writer Kyo Maclear’s second novel provides many clues as to what’s between the covers: over the course of the story, love strays, lovers stray, and strays are loved. These are just a few facets of this beautiful, sen­sitive, multi-layered novel… Maclear has created an emo­tionally chal­lenging exam­i­nation of family, race, and, above all, love. I was so moved while reading Stray Love, I went right back and read it again.”

Quill and Quire (Starred Review)

[A] touchingly beautiful second novel…Kyo Maclear is a strong and natural writer. Her descriptions are poetic but practical. We know exactly what she means when she says it…Maclear’s structure is perfect. She loops memory, story, present and past, having them come together quickly and won­derfully at the end.”

The Winnipeg Review

Ambitious, sen­sitive and graceful, Stray Love is a book that stays quietly with you long after the book is closed.”

J.C. Sut­cliffe, Slightly Bookist

[I]t is Maclear’s risk-taking, her will­ingness to write char­acters so close to her own expe­rience and to put them through so very much that makes Stray Love an important novel. It also firmly estab­lishes Maclear in the echelon of home-and-abroad writers such as Madeleine Thien and Karen Connelly.”

Winnipeg Free Press

An absorbing novel about the redemptive power of love, with a hidden twist.”


Anyone who has ever felt like an outsider will connect with Marcel, a mixed-race child who knows nothing of his bio­logical parents and is being raised by a harried foreign cor­re­spondent. In Stray Love, Kyo Maclear offers a haunting and beautiful portrait of what it’s like to be confused about one’s place in the world and des­perate for a sense of belonging.”

CBC Books

Parental aban­donment and its emo­tional aftermath, a budding artist’s sen­si­bilities, race-based bullying, the ravages of war: they’re all on the agenda in this gem of a novel.”

NOW Magazine

The novel has an effortless grace, clean and sparse, that allows Maclear’s grander themes — of failing to fit in and an evolving search for identity — to shine through.”

The Walrus

An intriguing book that got under my skin.”

The Record

Each year I find a very small number of spec­tacular works of fiction that, for whatever reasons, seem to fly under the radar. I think Stray Love is such a book.”

Literal Life

It is a book where the knowledge of children is often more than the capacity of adults…And so, too, the reader sits with this full range and comes away changed.”

The Waterloo Record

A quirky med­i­tation on betrayal and acceptance of life’s short­comings and the infinite wisdom of children.”

The Coast

This book delights…Above all, Maclear captures atmosphere: small details are beau­tifull and eru­ditely observed and the broad world picture of the 1950s and 60s in the death throes on colo­nialism is skillfully captured. This book is even more rewarding on a second reading.”

Good Reading Magazine (highly recommended)

An inspi­ra­tionally beautiful tale of an orphan child battling to make sense of adult betrayal, Maclear’s novel enriches where it could so easily depict only despair.”

Aus­tralian Women’s Weekly

Canadian novelist Kyo Maclear tackles familiar themes with great orig­i­nality and a fre­quently impressive wit via a narrator whose personal reflections in turn reflect the tumult of various times.”

—Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin

Kyo Maclear’s novel, slipping artfully between the past and present, focuses on the ‘ball bearings of sadness’ which have long unsettled the soul of one Marcel…A most sat­isfying read.”

—Sunday Canberra Times

This tale is richly embroidered with nuanced detail as it weaves its way back and forth through time, Maclear’s deep affection for her char­acters holding a true course. This is a skilled and exquisite ren­dering of the quest for identity and one’s place in the world. I loved every minute of it.”

The Hoopla Literary Society

Advance Praise

Stray Love is an elegant and com­pelling elegy on loss and longing. Maclear has created a story so believable that it feels like doc­u­mentary. A triumph.”

— Helen Humphreys

Stray Love is a vibrant and deeply moving book about a boy of uncertain origins who seeks belonging in a world of harsh divides and stifling conventions….Kyo Maclear is a writer of enormous talent and com­passion — one to trust whole­heartedly in revealing the funny, the beautiful, and the unadorned truth.”

— David Chariandy