Two sisters. One mother missing in action. Abandoned as young teenagers, Maggie and Jenny struggle to understand the mysterious disappearance of their previously kind and caring mother.
Set in British Columbia in the 1960s and 70s, this is a multi-faceted story that peels back the complex layers of family relationships especially our connection to our mothers. [Larger font]
Generated lots of conversation. Layers of stories. Lovely prose. A sad story that brought out a quiet stamina. Otaki 001
Loved it! Best book for ages - refreshing view through child's eyes. Beautifully written. ... Description of nature was wonderful. Please write another! Auckland 166
Beautifully written keeping reader guessing until the end where lots of our questions where answered and ends tidied up. Positive ending. Would definitely recommend. Christchurch 011
Good discussion about abandonment. Most enjoyed it but thought the ending was a little too contrived. Christchurch 238
We unanimously enjoyed this novel. It was easy to read, while creating a vivid picture of the landscape and way of life. Most of us agreed we would read another book by the same author if she writes one. Auckland 292
A sad story. Matua 001
A busy, but interesting read about a part of the world we knew little of. Lots of good characters with complicated lives.
There were very mixed reactions to this book - we either loved it or disliked it intensely. Those who liked it enjoyed the writing style and found the description of the girls' early life, evocative and interesting. Some lost interest in the 2nd half while others found it gripping, as they wanted to find out what had happened to the mother, and why she had abandoned the girls. Our discussions about motherhood etc were interesting.
One of the group thought 'Shelter' was brilliant! Compulsive reading, and she couldn't put the book down. The remainder did not enjoy it at all. Thought it was a sad read.
This proved to be a very popular choice, and there was a lot of discussion about mothering. Most of the group were keen to read more from this author.
We all enjoyed this book which brought up some interesting observations of what it means to "mother", and how much latitude a mother might allow herself to follow her own dreams, rather than stay with her family.
We generally thought the book a little implausible, and didn't give it a high score. However, we liked the descriptions of the Canadian bush. We thought some of the themes could be more fully developed, and the last part rushed.
We all really enjoyed this - the best read we've had in a while. Very clever interweaving of the double themes of shelter and abandonment, also the use of the characters' voices. We loved the interweaving of the Canadian Indian/Canadian lives, traditions and experiences. Would recommend to friends and other groups. It generated lots of discussion about what we mean by 'abandonment' and 'shelter'.
Our group agreed that, whilst we enjoyed some of the descriptive passages, we felt that the author was intent on bringing in as many social issues as possible, which somehow did not connect or enhance the story.
Overall, the group enjoyed the majority of the book, although several thought it finished in a peculiar fashion, with a large period of time condensed into a very few pages. Most of the characters were likeable and genuine. We had quite a bit of discussion about what might motivate a mother to abandon her children. Many enjoyed the scenic descriptions and the strong referencing to Indian culture. We thought the "Shelter' was somewhat overstated. Not a completely memorable book but nevertheless quite enjoyable.