Unsheltered

Unsheltered

A Novel

Book - 2018
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How could two hardworking people do everything right in life, a woman asks, and end up destitute? Willa Knox and her husband followed all the rules as responsible parents and professionals, and have nothing to show for it but debts and an inherited brick house that is falling apart. The magazine where Willa worked has folded; the college where her husband had tenure has closed. Their dubious shelter is also the only option for a disabled father-in-law and an exasperating, free-spirited daughter. When the family's one success story, an Ivy-educated son, is uprooted by tragedy he seems likely to join them, with dark complications of his own. In another time, a troubled husband and public servant asks, How can a man tell the truth, and be reviled for it? A science teacher with a passion for honest investigation, Thatcher Greenwood finds himself under siege: his employer forbids him to speak of the exciting work just published by Charles Darwin. His young bride and social-climbing mother-in-law bristle at the risk of scandal, and dismiss his worries that their elegant house is unsound. In a village ostensibly founded as a benevolent Utopia, Thatcher wants only to honor his duties, but his friendships with a woman scientist and a renegade newspaper editor threaten to draw him into a vendetta with the town's powerful men. Unsheltered is the compulsively readable story of two families, in two centuries, who live at the corner of Sixth and Plum in Vineland, New Jersey, navigating what seems to be the end of the world as they know it. With history as their tantalizing canvas, these characters paint a startlingly relevant portrait of life in precarious times when the foundations of the past have failed to prepare us for the future.
Publisher: New York, New York : Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, ©2018.
ISBN: 9780062870179
9780062684561
0062870173
Characteristics: 464 pages ;,24 cm.

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ArapahoeAnnaL Feb 26, 2019

This terrific work of literary fiction tells the story of two different families, one living in the 1870's, the other in current times. Geography, house troubles, and the lack of reliable shelter connect the two narratives. The meaning of shelter for these characters is twofold - in the concrete sense of housing, but also in the metaphorical shelter provided by a familiar and comforting world view. In the 19th century complacency is threatened by Charles Darwin's theory of evolution . In the 21st century the family finds the old ways of ensuring personal and societal security no longer work as they lose their savings and their professional positions as they confront global warming, a broken health care system, bigotry, class inequality, etc. This isn't a dry exploration of shelter however. The characters and their challenges are thoroughly engaging.

k
kwsmith
Feb 24, 2019

The characters in this book all live in decaying homes and don't earn enough money to repair their homes. I think this book reflects a grandmother's concern for the future of American children who may be the first generation in a long while to be less well off than their parents. Kingsolver was a Biologist before she was an author and this book spends a lot of time on the biology of plants. Kingsolver also explores the conflict between creationist thinking and evolutionist thinking. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy this book as much as her earlier work.

g
griddling
Feb 14, 2019

Didactic, preachy and tedious. Not her best work.

r
rosalyndavidoff
Feb 11, 2019

You may make the book available to me at the Oak Square library branch.

l
Libstress
Jan 30, 2019

I've loved most of her past works, but this one is tedious and overly heavy-handed. I didn't particularly like any of the characters, and only finished because it was a book club pick. Sorry, Barbara.

ontherideau Jan 22, 2019

Charles Darwin's theories of evolution clashing with creationism were controversial, setting family members and professionals against each other in a profound way.
I appreciate this insight into the heritage of American politics.

Carrie_library Jan 08, 2019

Amazing! A must read for all in these uncertain times, offering differing perspectives on this quickly changing world.

mko123 Jan 07, 2019

Two tumbling down houses in the small town of Vineland, NJ,one hundred years apart but both inhabited by well-intended people, trying to do the right thing to secure a home for their families. Many forces are working against both households, including economic instability and colliding belief systems. Both households are also connected by the life of Mary treat, self taught biologist who corresponded with Charles Darwin. This book gives you lots to ponder as you watch families from 100 years ago deal with the same issues we struggle with right now. Kingsolvers characters find no easy solution, but they do find solace in the natural world.

TechLibrarian Jan 07, 2019

Barbara Kingsolver is like the comfort food of books to me, especially her audiobooks, which she reads herself. (Her voice is sing-songy, with a southern accent.) While I was looking to escape from reality, this book kind of holds up a mirror. The main character is struggling with grief, tough finances, and an irreparable old home. An obnoxious political figure looms large, and one of the main character's family members is xenophobic and infuriatingly short on values. Yet, there is a second wing of the plot about an overlooked female scientist from the 1800s, based on a true story, which held my attention a bit more. Here, Kingsolver displays her characteristic penchant for botany and science. So, while this book was not exactly what I was expecting, it did deliver. The way that Kingsolver described so aptly some feelings about current events made this read a bit like talking with an old friend. It wouldn’t be the first Kingsolver I’d recommend, but it was still a pretty good read/listen.

s
sgolux
Jan 02, 2019

I am a huge fan of Barbara Kindsolver. Sad to say though this is not her best book. It feels a bit heavy and a bit preachy, with little of the freedom of earlier work like "Animal Dreams" or "Pigs in Heaven" or the skill in the later "Prodigal Summer". Still, not every book can be great. Definitely worth the read, and I'll be waiting for the next one from this great author.

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