The Leap Year Gene of Kit McKinley

A Novel

By Shelley Wood (Author)


Pub Date 8/6/2024

ISBN 9781454956297

Format Paperback



The Leap Year Gene of Kit McKinley

A Novel

by Shelley Wood
An inspired, sweeping, historical epic tracing the remarkable life story of a baby girl born on leap year day who grows one year older every four years. The Leap Year Gene imagines the fascinating life of Kit McKinley from WWI up to the present day, told through the voices of Kit and her family members, whose lives are forever altered by her secret.

February 29, 1916: After an unusually long pregnancy, Lillian McKinley, whose husband has been killed in the war, gives birth to a baby girl on Leap Year Day. Kit proves to be a happy and intelligent child, but unnaturally slow to age. For decades, she and her family must keep on the move to protect her secret—from insatiable newshounds, Nazi scientists, doctors, and pharmaceutical companies. When Kit at last can pass for an adult, she must decide whether she wants to stay perpetually on the run or form lasting ties. Ultimately, once the human genome is mapped and research on altering it begins, she’ll need to make some difficult choices about the strange quirk in her DNA that has made her who she is.

Perfect for fans of Kate Atkinson's Life After Life and Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife, The Leap Year Gene is a race through the past century’s burgeoning understanding of genetics, eugenics, and what constitutes “normal,” while exploring the tensions, love, and sense of duty that can bind families together or split them apart.
“A capriciously imagined historical epic that captures the essence of a century through the remarkable life of Kit McKinley. A skilled researcher, Wood deftly weaves genetic discovery and society's fascination with eugenics into a highly unique, engrossing tale of love and family.”
—Cathy Marie Buchanan, New York Times bestselling author of The Painted Girls
"Shelley Wood offers a deeply heartfelt account of the McKinley family's complex relationship with time and societal change. With an intriguing blend of scientific insight and emotional resonance, Wood's novel is a poignant portrayal of kinship and the perennial search for meaning and belonging."
—Ellen Keith, author of #1 international bestseller The Dutch Wife

“An astonishingly beautiful, wonderfully unique, completely seductive novel about a woman who ages one year for every four. It is also a sweeping and memorable portrait of the twentieth century: eugenics, genetics, World Wars, feminism, politics, world travel, and much more. Most of all, it is a novel about love and devotion—among families, friends, and lovers—against the backdrop of a persistent violence against people who are judged to be born different. I could not put this novel down.”
—Lawrence Hill, author of Someone Knows My Name
"The Leap Year Gene of Kit McKinley is a marvel. Spanning decades and continents, it shines new light on the essential bond of human empathy, exposing the burdens and immeasurable blessings of love. A fresh and unforgettable novel about what we can’t help but lose in this life—and what lives on."
—Alissa York, author of Far Cry -

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Shelley Wood is a writer, journalist, and editor. Her work has appeared in the New Quarterly, Room, the Antigonish Review, Causeway Lit, and the Globe and Mail (UK). Born and raised in Vancouver, she has lived in Montreal, Cape Town, and the Middle East, and now has a home, a man, and a dog in British Columbia, Canada. Her 2019 novel, The Quintland Sisters, was a bestseller in Canada.

Title Details

Pages 416 pages

Trim 5.5 x 8.25 x 0 Inches

Territories WENG excl Canada

Category Fiction

Carton Quantity 27