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Shelterby Frances Greenslade
Synopses & Reviews
From an impressive new literary talent, a heartbreaking, lushly imagined novel that explores the deep bond between two very different sisters whose world is shattered when their mother mysteriously abandons them.
Before their father died, Maggie and Jenny's life felt nearly perfect. Seasons in their tiny rural home were peppered with wilderness hikes, building makeshift shelters and telling stories by the fire with Patrick and Irene, their doting father and beautiful, quick-to-laugh mother. But not long after Maggie's tenth birthday, Patrick is killed in a logging accident — and a few months later, Irene abruptly drops the girls at a neighbor's house, promising to return in a few weeks. She never does.
Left in the care of a childless couple, Maggie and Jenny learn to depend on one another, keeping alive the faith that their mother is coming back. Yet as years start to pass, and the girls go to school, fall in love, and begin to grow apart, Maggie struggles with the mystery of what could have happened to their once warm, loving mother to make her abandon her daughters. And when the girls find themselves facing a crisis too overwhelming to handle alone, Maggie finally decides it is time to heal their fractured family at any cost and she takes off to try to bring their mother home at last.
Told in Maggie's strong, plucky voice, Shelter celebrates the love between two sisters and the complicated bonds of family. It is an exquisitely written ode to sisters, mothers, daughters, and to a woman's responsibility to herself and those she loves.
"Greenslade's beautiful debut novel (after the memoir By a Secret Ladder) chronicles the struggles of sisters Maggie and Jenny as they attempt to make sense of a life without parents in rural Duchess Creek, Canada, in the 1970s. After their father dies in a tragic logging accident when the girls are young, Maggie and Jenny's mother drops them off with friends, and never returns. As weeks bleed into months that pool into years, Maggie and Jenny grow into very different teenagers, though both girls labor on with the memory of their beloved father and the persistent hope that one day their mother might return. Maggie, the narrator, finds comfort in local loner Vern George — with whom she builds makeshift shelters in the woods — and his kind Uncle Leslie. When Jenny gets pregnant and is shipped off to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Home for Unwed Mothers, Maggie takes it upon herself to locate their prodigal mother — or at least uncover her fate — and build a true shelter wherein Maggie and Jenny might reconstitute the loving family they once had. Agent: Denise Bukowski, the Bukowski Agency." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"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 Bartok, 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 a safer 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
For sisters Maggie and Jenny growing up in the Pacific mountains in the early 1970s, life felt nearly perfect. Seasons in their tiny rustic home were peppered with wilderness hikes, building shelters from pine boughs and telling stories by the fire with their doting father and beautiful, adventurous mother. But at night, Maggie — a born worrier — would count the freckles on her fathers weathered arms, listening for the peal of her mothers laughter in the kitchen, and never stop praying to keep them all safe from harm. Then her worst fears come true: Not long after Maggie's tenth birthday, their father is killed in a logging accident, and a few months later, their mother abruptly drops the girls at a neighbor's house, promising to return. She never does.
With deep compassion and sparkling prose, Frances Greenslade's mesmerizing debut takes us inside the devastation and extraordinary strength of these two girls as they are propelled from the quiet, natural freedom in which they were raised to a world they can't begin to fathom. Even as the sisters struggle to understand how their mother could abandon them, they keep alive the hope that she is fighting her way back to the daughters who adore her and who need her so desperately.
Heartbreaking and lushly imagined, Shelter celebrates the love between two sisters and the complicated bonds of family. It is an exquisitely written ode to sisters, mothers, daughters, and to a woman's responsibility to herself and those she loves.
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.
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