Frances Greenslade’s debut novel is about family, particularly mothers and daughters, and about survival. Shelter is also notable for its vivid British Columbia wilderness setting.
The author provides all kinds of cool extras on her book clubs page, including a playlist, discussion questions, and a list of titles about British Columbia. Simon & Schuster also provides a discussion guide and author Q&A.
Those of you who travel to the United Kingdom know about Waterstones, a popular bookstore chain. The Waterstones 11 is a book prize that promotes the 11 best debut authors of the year. The 2012 winners include Frances Greenslade for Shelter, along with a few other authors & titles we have highlighted on AB4T, including The Land of Decoration, The Snow Child, and The Age of Miracles.
Adult/High School–Maggie and Jenny are living in rural British Columbia in the 1970s. They are 10- and 12-years-old when their father dies, and not much older when their mother leaves them at the home of an older couple they barely know. For a few years, they hear from her occasionally, but eventually she disappears forever. Maggie narrates the story, struggling to understand something about who her parents were, why her mother left, and why she and Jenny didn’t try to find her. Maggie is bright, thoughtful, and independent, while Jenny is charming and outgoing like her mother. Maggie, more cautious like her father, approaches life warily, albeit with great resourcefulness. When Jenny becomes pregnant, Maggie decides that she must find out what happened to their mother. Not a lot goes on in this novel, but readers are nevertheless drawn inexorably forward by Maggie’s longing for a real family, by her loyalty to Jenny, and by her few close friendships. The setting is so clearly drawn as to be almost a character in its own right. This is a quiet but deeply felt book, for readers who liked Bobbie Ann Mason’s In Country (Harper, 1985) or Kent Haruf’s Plainsong (Knopf, 1999).–Sarah Flowers, formerly at Santa Clara County Library, CA