BOOK REVIEW: Shelterwood, by Lisa Wingate

It’s been a long time since I’ve reviewed one of the books I read. In depth I mean, as of course I did talk a bit about the sci-fi series I’m enjoying. Anyhow, one of my truly favorite authors has just released her much-anticipated book. It’s called Shelterwood, and it’s by Lisa Wingate. I made a valiant effort to stay away from any chatter about the book prior to picking it up, so that I could have the pleasure of diving in and being immersed as I trust Wingate’s work to be excellent. So I think you can trust me not to give anything significant away, as I only wish to make you interested enough to check out this title for yourself.

This book deals with children and the mistreatment/orphanage of them throughout the years; abuse, lack of proper care from adult figures, and a forced growing up far too early. We see this impact both white and Chocktaw children in Oklahoma. The fact that it takes place there is enough to interest me, as I have read few if any books set in that state. One can’t help but feel sad that people were and are still faced with such hardships based solely on where and how they happen to exist in the world.

The story unfolds over two timelines: 1909, 11-year-old Olive Agusta escapes her stepfather as he becomes increasingly more dangerous, with Nessa, a younger child whom they’ve taken in in tow. They set off for what they hope is safety in the Winding Stair Mountains, and along the way they encounter a rich cast of characters speaking English and Chocktaw, accented and not. The imagery as they hike through southeastern Oklahoma really make you feel like you’re roaming that newly-admitted (at the time) state as well.

1990: Valerie moves to the region to become a park ranger after losing her husband in a horrible accident (not a spoiler as it happens prior to the story and is revealed sort of offstage). As she struggles with sexism and small-town life, she makes some discoveries with which some are clearly not happy.

I’m not sure how the stories are going to connect in the end, as I’m still making my way through it. That’s good though, as I would probably not tell you if I knew. I do know that the audio especially is very well narrated, primarily by Christine Lakin and Jenna Lamia. Other books i’ve read by Wingate that I would also recommend are:

  • Before We Were Yours
  • The Seakeeper’s Daughters
  • The Storykeeper
  • The Book of Lost Friends

I love all of her historical fiction, as I always learn about some new place or aspect. Or, she just causes me to see something I thought I knew plenty about in a different way. So I would recommend checking this out. I plucked up the audio on the first day it came out, which as a blind person for whom books were not always so accessible I still find exciting.

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