Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Shelter” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.34  ·  Rating Details ·  227 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
In a West Virginia forest in 1963, a group of children at summer camp enter a foreboding Eden and experience an unexpected rite of passage. Shelter is an astonishing portrayal of an American loss of innocence as witnessed by a mysterious drifter named Parson, two young sisters, Lenny and Alma, and a feral boy called Buddy. Together they come to understand bravery and the i ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published December 3rd 2002 by Vintage (first published January 1st 1994)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Shelter, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Shelter

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Feb 07, 2011 Teresa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 and 1/2 stars

While this had its wonderful, brilliant moments, I much prefer her Machine Dreams and Lark and Termite. Once again, though, Phillips is amazing in her observation and description of the memories, dreams (or dreamlike states) and interiority of her characters, including (especially?) a character who has to be schizophrenic, though that's never stated. One image related to him immediately brought me back to my repeated adolescent reading of I Never Promised You A Rose Garden. A desc
Aug 26, 2011 gaudeo rated it did not like it
Maybe I'll give this one 1 1/2 stars. The difficulty with this book is twofold. First, the language, which I think is intended to be evocative and dreamy, is instead florid and confusing. It interferes with getting to know the characters and the plot, and it hits the reader over the head with the message that the setting is all-important. And, second (but partly because of the first point), not much really happens in the first half or more of the book. The most exciting part is very near the end ...more
Jul 23, 2011 Malcolm rated it it was amazing
Jayne Anne Phillips is one of the finer practitioners of Southern Gothic (think Faulkner, Kate Chopin & Carson McCullers), and this is an excellent example of the sub-genre. Events take place over about three days, but she spends so much time inside the heads of her four narrative centres – Lenny, about 15, her little sister Alma, Buddy a wild boy about 8 or 9, and Parson, of indeterminate age, but probably in his late 20s – that the story covers many years. That she spends so much time insi ...more
Jul 21, 2009 Eric rated it really liked it
phillips has not only read her faulkner and freud, but has thought about them deeply. she manages here to mix rich prose, a superb sense of place and suspense. oddly perhaps, the male characters, especially buddy and parson, seem more defined/developed/carefully pitched, than the women, finely rendered as well. good stuff.
Apr 10, 2008 Leah rated it did not like it
I really didn't enjoy this book. The premise seemed right up my alley, but I had a really hard time getting into it. The book is written from the view point of characters who are connected in different ways to a Girl Guide summer camp. The author did a good job of presenting atypical representations of the inner-life of a couple of the campers, but beyond that I just wasn't interested.
Nov 10, 2009 Dragana rated it it was ok
lyrical, dense, though only in language, not action
Mar 16, 2012 Jessica rated it really liked it
A surprising and surprisingly poignant portrait of the friendship among young girls at a summer camp in the hills of West Virginia. The book captures the quick, aching devotion that develops among these young girls. Together, and with others, they explore one another and their sexuality as well as the dappled terrain of West Virginia. As has been remarked elsewhere, Phillips's descriptions of the natural world are rich, evocative, and somehow simultaneously dark and sparkling. I think she did a ...more
2.5 I wanted to like this - that which fancies itself a Southern Gothic set in WV - I really tried. I wouldn't doubt that this is absolutely lovely prose, for somebody wired completely differently than me, and will even allow that its proper shelving is in the literature section. But I hated starting each and every paragraph in this book, knowing that to reach its end I would have to wade through bogs of random loose associations wanting to be lush atmosphere, yet neither flowing comfortably nor ...more
Jul 23, 2012 Estibaliz79 rated it it was ok
Cuestión de gustos, pero para mí este es uno de esos casos de buen argumento desperdiciado por la forma de contar la historia, con un exceso de lenguaje poético y un ritmo demasiado moroso. No esta mal, pero lo dicho: se toma mucho tiempo para llegar a la parte verdaderamente interesante... y es que aunque las digresiones tengan por objeto crear personajes y trasfondos psicológicos, estos tampoco resultan tan redondos como para que compense.
Stacy Lewis
Maybe it was the time of the year (bball playoffs) and all the other things on my plate, but I couldn't really get into this book. There was a great sense of foreboding but it seemed to take forever for the inevitable to happen. Again, this may not be fair. I read this over 3 weeks. Maybe if I had read it ore quickly, it wouldn't have seemed so plodding.
Aug 05, 2009 Marsha rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 06, 2008 Jeweleye rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A friend brought this book to me and said it was beautifully written. But I had a heard time following the stream-of-consciousness imagery. Sometimes I wasn't sure if something had happened or if it was in a character's mind. Ultimately it was a good story; I just didn't want to work that hard.
Jun 08, 2009 Diana rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
I was giving this a chance, but about three chapters in, it occurred to me that she's flagrantly imitating Faulkner, and then I lost all desire to keep reading. If anyone loves this book and disagrees, I'm willing to consider that I should give it another go, but otherwise, I abandon it.
Lori Colt
Jan 08, 2011 Lori Colt rated it did not like it
The story could have been compelling, set in the 60's at a girls camp with several paroles in the vicinity, but I just could not get into the writer's style. It was too disjointed for me and then tensions that were build just didn't reel me in. Sorry...abandoned this book at page 100....
Aug 25, 2010 Laynie rated it it was ok
The writing was extremely descriptive, most of which was great, and some of which was a bit overdone. The story was good but for whatever reason it didn't capture me at all. It took me almost a month to finish this which alone means I was not pulled in.
Apr 20, 2009 Gertie rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Anne Sanow
Over-the-top, drippy gooey meandering lushness.
Jul 17, 2013 Katja rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vahva ja tumma, tiheää kerrontaa ja etelävaltiolaista tunnelmaa.
Notcathy J
Jun 14, 2007 Notcathy J rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
"fey, uninteresting"
Sep 16, 2013 Gina marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I registered a book at!
Sep 12, 2009 Gwynne marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I'm putting this on the shelf because I know I should read the "good" writers but am aching for captivating narrative (with ACTION) right now.
Aug 21, 2007 Dale rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me a while for me to get in to this book, but the last 100 pages were riveting! Ultimately a very good read.
Pippi van Merwijk
Pippi van Merwijk rated it liked it
May 03, 2010
Shanice Taylor
Shanice Taylor rated it really liked it
Aug 15, 2012
Enni-liina rated it liked it
Nov 18, 2011
Sonya Leckner
Sonya Leckner rated it liked it
Dec 28, 2013
Stefan rated it really liked it
Jun 19, 2015
Anna Barton
Anna Barton rated it liked it
Aug 10, 2016
Patricia Randell
Patricia Randell rated it really liked it
Nov 27, 2016
Lucy rated it really liked it
Sep 29, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • A Balcony in the Forest
  • Eve's Tattoo
  • The Earth and Sky of Jacques Dorme
  • The Marriage of True Minds
  • Touched
  • A Land without Jasmine
  • The Brothers
  • Nuori Johannes
  • On a Day Like This
  • The Narrows
  • Artemisia
  • The Execution of Willie Francis: Race, Murder, and the Search for Justice in the American South
  • The Rise of Life on Earth
  • Professor Martens' Departure
  • Crum: The Novel
  • I Thought of Daisy
  • The Taste of a Man
  • Daughters of the Dust
Jayne Anne Phillips is an American novelist and short story writer. Phillips graduated from West Virginia University, earning a B.A. in 1974, and later graduated from the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa.

Phillips has held teaching positions at several colleges and universities, including Harvard University, Williams College, and Boston University. She is currently Professor of Engl
More about Jayne Anne Phillips...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »