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Shelter: A Novel Paperback – May 15, 2012

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; Reprint edition (May 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 145166110X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451661101
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #963,467 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“From the very first page, this eloquent, evocative book crept into my heart and wouldn't go away. I think it will linger inside me for a long, long time—like a powerful dream or one of those take-your-breath-away kind of tales that someone tells you in childhood and years later, still haunts you. Shelter is an unforgettable novel about love, loss, family, and what it means to go home.” (Mira Bartók, New York Times bestselling author of The Memory Palace)

“A harrowing, haunting, and exquisitely written novel about sisters, mothers, daughters, and whom we love and why. The characters are so alive, you feel them breathing on the page. Loved. Loved. Loved.” (Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You)

“In prose as lush and vivid as its British Columbia landscapes, Frances Greenslade's debut novel, Shelter, offers an achingly beautiful story of loss, longing, and hope. I love this book.” (Will Allison, New York Times bestselling author of Long Drive Home and What You Have Left)

“The longing for a lost mother has rarely been expressed so soulfully. The yearning of these two vulnerable young sisters for their mother, who has disappeared, is palpable. I was entirely absorbed in their precarious situation and their desire to find her, yet aware that their mother's gift was the resourcefulness they needed to survive. Greenslade is a fresh new voice that you are sure to hear again.” (Bobbie Ann Mason, author of The Girl in the Blue Beret)

“Poignant, tender and vivid, Shelter traces the relationship of two daughters with their missing mother through family stories. Greenslade’s gorgeous landscapes and loving attention to her characters make this journey through loss and survival unforgettable. I was glued to every page.” (Eden Robinson, author of Traplines)

“This book casts a strong spell—the landscape is so vividly rendered, it is a character all on its own, and sisters Maggie and Jenny are unforgettable in their resilience. Greenslade depicts the battle between different types of love with harrowing intensity and quiet compassion. Shelter shows us how wilderness can be asafer haven than a home with four walls, but also how love, despite its heartbreaking unpredictability, remains the shelter we desire most.” (Jamie Zeppa, author of Every Time We Say Goodbye)

About the Author

Frances Greenslade is the author of two memoirs and is the winner of the Saskatchewan Book Award for Non-Fiction. She teaches English in Penticton, BC.

Customer Reviews

I enjoyed the book although I thought the pace was too slow.
Shelter seems like the kind of work a teacher would see in her 5th grade class.
Well-written, easy-to-read writing style and engaging story/characters.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By B. Burke on May 29, 2012
Format: Paperback
After I read the synopsis for Shelter, I expected a depressing story that would leave me feeling sorry for the heroine. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the story did not unfold that way. What I got instead was a satisfying read that highlighted a life that could have been dreary, that could have devolved into misery and heartache, but was made upbeat by the spunk and resourcefulness of Maggie, through whose eyes the story is told.
One of the discussion questions included in the reading group guide asks if there is any reason to doubt Maggie's reliability as the narrator. My answer to that is a firm no, as she exhibits so much confidence and capability that there's little to quibble about with her viewpoint. Although she is not omniscient, and possibly most unskilled at recognizing what motivates others, what she does see in people is their redeeming qualities. She's accepting of others and their quirks. It allows her to be adaptable to the unlikely situations in which she finds herself and it makes her a very likable character. Her nonjudgmental nature is probably what I admired the most about her. She doesn't even seem to judge her mother for abandoning her two young daughters.
It was interesting to see the profound differences between Maggie and her sister Jenny and how they faced their circumstances. It seemed to illustrate the adage about predicting how a person will react when faced with a particular situation, because the two sisters went in divergent directions with their lives, one choosing a path fraught with trouble; the other staying on the straight and narrow. Thankfully, the stronger character prevails in this case so that the story ends on a promising note.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jeanne Anderson VINE VOICE on April 13, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This was a very well told story. Maggie and Jenny were left by their mother on the doorstep of some people they barely knew when they were only 11 and 12 years old. Their father had died just a few months earlier and one day their whole life was turned upside down and backwards.

They lived deep in the British Columbia bush and had what they thought was a pretty normal life, with a loving father and mother. Then one day everything they knew to be normal wasn't anymore. Maggie and Jenny struggled living with a man and woman who really felt inconvenienced by the girls. They became young teens and began to depend more and more on each other and became quite independant. The deep wound was always there as to why there mother never returned for them.

At one point, after a pivotal time in the young girls lives they decide to find their mother at any cost. What they find is incredible. This story ripped my heart out on the one hand and gave me hope on the other. These girls learned more than any young person should have to about survival and what it means to be family. This is an extremely well written book and I am so glad I decided to read it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By D. Williams VINE VOICE on May 13, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Maggie and Jenny are sisters and live with their parents, Irene and Patrick, in rural Canada. Their lives are rough; they have no electricity in their home. However, they are content. They learn wilderness and survival techniques, even how to fashion emergency shelters from what can be found in the woods.

When Maggie is about ten years old (and Jenny apparently about twelve), Patrick is killed in a logging accident. Irene and the girls hold out for a while, but it's not long until Irene leaves the girls with childless neighbors who have problems of their own. Irene says she will be back soon - a few weeks - but the weeks turn into months. No one knows where Irene is or what she's doing to earn what money she sends to the adults caring for the girls, and eventually that money stops coming.

At first, Maggie takes an attitude of, "Well, she's the mom. She knows where we are. She'll come for us." But eventually a crisis happens that is more than the girls can handle, and Maggie sets out to find Irene.

The novel covers about four years and is told from young Maggie's point of view. The voice is right for that of a girl of those years (ten to fourteen) who is forced to grow up faster than perhaps she is ready. Readers do want to find out why Irene left the girls and whether or not the girls would be reunited with their mother.

This novel, however, does tend to try to do and be too many things at once. It is primarily a family-problems novel, but it deals with many other things - perhaps more than are really manageable to do well. There is teen pregnancy (though saying much more than this would be a spoiler), some dealings with homosexuality and people who believe themselves to be homosexual, and some dealings with mysticism and First Nation beliefs.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By sky on August 2, 2012
Format: Paperback
"Shelter" is a moving story about two sisters and their mother and father, who live a hardscrabble life in the Pacific mountains, Their mother is fiercely independent; their father is a logger. When he dies in a logging accident, their mother billets the young girls with a neighbor, while she goes off to cook for a logging outfit. They never see her again.

The girls's love and faith that their mother would never abandon them leads them to conclude that her disappearance must be due to circumstances beyond her control. These unknowns eat at Maggie, the narrator.

When she is old enough, she embarks on a search to find their mother, retracing the places they once lived and the people they knew. The answer she discovers leaves her faith intact. Frances Greenslade's prose is filled with birds, insects, owls, and all matter of wild berries and other plants. I could smell the Pacific rains and taste the roaring spring waters.

Constance Richardson, Author, "Swimming Upstream: A Memoir."
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