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3.73  ·  Rating details ·  2,030 ratings  ·  350 reviews
A gorgeous, poetic literary debut from award-winning author Frances Greenslade, Shelter is a brilliant coming-of-age story of two strong, brave sisters searching for their mother.

For sisters Maggie and Jenny growing up in the Pacific mountains in the early 1970s, life felt nearly perfect. Seasons in their tiny rustic home were peppered with wilderness hikes, building shelt
Paperback, 376 pages
Published May 15th 2012 by Free Press (first published 2011)
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Average rating 3.73  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,030 ratings  ·  350 reviews

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Aug 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
I am unsure how to feel about this book because it seemed to me to begin as one story and end as another. Yes, the writing was vivid and almost mythical, but it also frustrated me at times when I wasn't sure which person's story was unfolding. I am still not connecting some of the "mystical" occurrences . I liked the letters the sisters wrote back and forth. Dad, Uncle Leslie and Vern were the characters that provided comfort which I find interesting since in this story of women, it is ultimate ...more
May 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: borrowed
Forty years ago, two sisters were growing up, in a small town, set in the wild countryside of British Columbia. Maggie and Jenny Dillon lived in an unfinished cabin home with their quiet reliable father, Patrick, and their imaginative, free-spirited mother, Irene. A happy family.

Maggie tells their story. And she tells it beautifully. Her voice rang true and she made me see her world, her sister, her father, her mother. I understood how the family relationships worked, I understood what was impo
May 08, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: own, arc, historical
Maggie and Jenny live a mostly carefree life in the Canadian wilderness with their spirited and adoring parents. But then their father is killed in an accident. Not long after, their mother loads them up and drops them off with family friends. They never see her again. When another trying time strikes the sisters, Maggie realizes she must search for the truth of what happened to their mother.

I'm kind of on the fence about this one. I picked it up at Midwinter on a whim, because it sounded like t
Jul 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012, 60s-70s-80s
Sort of quiet, depressing book about two girls who grew up in a makeshift sort of way and whose mother abandons them. Shelter is an apt title as the main character, little sister Maggie, is certainly looking for protection physically and emotionally. It took me a bit of time to get into the storyline. The writing is solid but not necessarily grabby and the beginning is almost too quaint. However, the author does a good job evoking sympathy for the characters, including the unsympathetic one. A f ...more
Jun 19, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: unfinished-2012

I forced myself to get half way through this book and still hated it and still had no real clue what was going on so I quit reading. There were too many characters and the main characters were way underdeveloped. There was nothing about this story that drew me in or made me want to keep reading. The story was really detailed on inconsequential things and then large time periods would pass without hardly a mention to time.

In the story the girls' mother disappears. I really didn't couldnt care
Book Him Danno
Another tear jerk-er for sure. The story started out with a bit of foreshadowing and I knew it wasn’t going to be a happy go lucky type of book. The picture the author paints is of a family that has problems, but for the most part works them out and continues to enjoy their relationships. Of course the point of view is that of one of the children so memories surface from time to time of other then happy moments. Other moments that leads the reader to believe that everything wasn’t as it seemed.

May 03, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, own
:I would say that the title Shelter appropriately sums up what this book is about. It's the search for physical shelter, monetary shelter, emotional shelter. Maggie, Jennie, their mother, and many of the other characters are all searching for it in different ways. Will they find it? You have to read the book to find out.

This book was beautiful in many ways but I found myself having a hard time with the narrative coming from a preteen girl. It just never rang quite true to me. The story it self n
Doriana Bisegna
May 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
One of life's greatest pleasures is when you nonchalantly pick up a book and the story totally blindsides you! This is that kind of experience! I totally cared about these characters (and yes, I know they're not real) but they are to me!!! This has undertones of She's Come Undone, The Book of Ruth and Icy Sparks. I couldn't help thinking about how this mother could have done what she did to her two daughters. I think that the story was brilliantly put together, the characters are rich, funny and ...more
Aug 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelter takes place in Duchess Creek in British Columbia, Canada’s most westerly province. It begins during the 1960s and spans a period of several years. Shelter is told from the first person perspective of Margaret Dillon, known throughout as Maggie. The narrative is retrospective and the more sinister events of the novel are foreshadowed as it progresses.

The novel opens with Maggie stating that it was her older sister Jenny who urged her to document their story. The heartbreak of both sisters
Cheyenne Blue
Jul 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary-fiction
This slow-moving elegant tale is a lovely exploration of family and friendship and motherhood and love. It’s also about abandonment and loneliness.

In the 1970s, Maggie and Jenny grow up in the backwoods of British Columbia with their hippie mother and Irish father. When their father is killed, Irene, their mother leaves them with an acquaintance, Bea, and goes off to be a camp cook in a logging camp. Bea treats the girls with an offhand affection, but it’s the happy-go-lucky Jenny who is her fav
Brianne Jaure
Nov 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
In Shelter, a fiction novel, Frances Greenslade describes the setting of living in the wilderness of British Columbia so thoroughly that the reader feels as though they are actually there. The storyline is very interesting throughout, and makes the reader never want it to end. Shelter is one of the three books published by Frances Greenslade. Growing up in Ontario, Canada, and then moving to British Columbia herself, Frances Greenslade is able to relate to the characters by using very accurate d ...more
Vikki VanSickle

I very much enjoyed the story of Maggie Dillon, a quiet, woodsy girl abandoned mysteriously by her mother in the early 1970s in rural British Columbia. Maggie and her sister Jenny (sweet, sunnny, popular) make due with tempermental and mean-spirited Bea, waiting for their mother to return. But when Jenny finds herself pregnant and shipped off to an unwed mothers' home in Vancouver, Maggie decides to stop waiting for things to happen and take charge of her life.

Frances Greenslade knows how to wr
Dec 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
I loved this book overall. The story was set in the 70's, which is when I was a teenager myself so I could relate to some extent to the time-frame. However, the novel is set in a remote logging area of British Columbia and this made the story novel, exotic, fresh and thrilling for me. The author wonderfully described the natural setting in the story, really brought the environment to life and made the novel beautiful in a visual way, so much so that I am thinking about exploring that area! The c ...more
Sep 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway.

"Shelter" is an amazing novel in that it is so powerfully realistic that it's agonizing at times. Maggie's narration is honest and straightforward, and through her story you glimpse the struggles of a girl to whom life has been unfairly harsh.

The character development in this novel is phenomenal. Maggie's quirks, worries, and flaws come together to make this unique character, but at the same time readers may well recognize aspects of themselves in her.

Mimi Sakarett
Jan 02, 2013 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 21, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's not directly boring - just totally unexciting.
I expected a bit more of the "journey of finding the mother". But it was more of a plain walk through the life-so-far of the girls with a lot of unnecessary information and suddenly a bit of pregnancy here, a totally non-related meeting-of-a-stranger-for-2-seconds there. A kind of thrilling conspiracy against Jenny that - hey! - turned into nothing. A former friend that can tell a story about the mother's past in great detail - even though she
Jun 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book and finished it in one sitting. The book was engrossing as I watched these girls grow up. I thought that the author's depiction of the girls was phenomenal as these were girls I grew fond of reading them in the pages. There was an innocence to them that was overshadowed by desperate moves, yet never truly losing their connection to one another even with the tragic losses in their lives. The mystery of the mother's disappearance permeated the book, although it wasn't the centr ...more
Jul 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Seldom do I read a book that I have not chosen for myself, so when this came to me from a friend and fellow reader, I decided it would be the perfect book for my vacation---hours of reading in the car, at the lakeshore in the shade and before bed late into the night. It was excellent. It took place in the 1970s in a rustic Canadian setting and was at its core a story about family and loss and secrets and discovery. It is a book that made me care about its characters even while I was boiling over ...more
Jul 31, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked it but it slowed down in the last third of the book. Clearly at this point in the story, the girls are going to find out information about their mother and it just drags on. Too many descriptive paragraphs about the scenery that just bog down the story in this section. I just really wanted to know what happened/happens and I started skimming a lot to get to the meat of the story. Otherwise, the first 2/3 of the book are really well written and provide great character development - especi ...more
Chelsea Miller
Mar 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I'd give Shelter a 3.5 overall. I enjoyed the story and felt invested in the characters. However, the last 50pgs it fell apart for me a little. It was fairly abrupt which was unfortunate given the time it seemed to take for the story to build. I'm glad to have read it (and won it as a first reads giveaway) though and learned what Maggie and Jenny went through at such a young and impressionable age. ...more
Jan 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
I thought this was a beautiful book. The development of the characters, some of them so kind I wanted to cry, and the descriptions of nature in remote areas of British Columbia were amazing. Another reviewer wrote, and I agree, that the story started heading downhill when Maggie goes to find her mother and just didn't seem to fit in with the rest of the book. Luckily, that is a short part of the book, and the rest of it was well worth reading.
Peggy Leavey
Mar 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book with its poetic prose, its rich description of the wilderness of the British Columbia coast, and its well-rounded characters. It is a heartbreaking story of a girl's search for the truth about her father's fatal accident and for the reason why her adventure-loving mother suddenly walked out on her two young daughters. As they struggle to survive, the sisters, Maggie and Jenny, bound together by their love for each other, continue to hope that their mother will one day return. ...more
Sep 17, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It is very hard for me to give a proper review of this book as I couldn’t finish it. The story was quite boring, didn’t have anything interesting to say, and was very slow paced.

The story is set in beautiful British Columbia and some of the descriptive narrative was nice but too much just ruined it. Perhaps someone else will have better luck than I did reading this.
RoseMary Achey
Jul 16, 2012 rated it liked it
The story of two sisters growing up in Canada during the mid 70s. Their safe and happy life is shattered when their father dies in a logging accident and their mother disappears. They live with a family friend during their fragile adolescence and continually wonder where their mother could be and why she left them.
Orla Hegarty
Feb 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
I loved the story (compelling), the setting (1970s interior BC), and her writing.
Dec 02, 2022 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
James Anderson
Nov 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
On an afternoon in July 2009 I was sitting with my back to a concrete wall, looking down into the Williams Lake Stampede grounds. There were about twenty or thirty others sitting and standing with me, watching the rodeo for free, if from a little distance. Everybody else was First Nation. I remember earlier, standing up on Oliver Street, again looking down into the stampede grounds, and a lean dark woman talking to me, asking me what my shirt was made of. It was a fast drying, water repelling ou ...more
Peter B
Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
Set in Williiams Lake, it tells the story of two sisters abandoned by their mother after the passing of their father. Maggie and Jenny are left with a caregiver who doesn’t really want them but ultimately becomes very attached to them and keeps them even after the support stops coming.
The older of the two becomes pregnant and is sent away to Vancouver to a home for unwed mothers and the younger goes looking for the mother. It has some very difficult to believe plot and some equally hard to belie
Sep 03, 2018 rated it liked it
A well told story of a family that, through a somewhat predictable set of circumstances, falls apart and comes back together again. The setting, in British Columbia, is remote enough to add to the more esoteric and mystical elements sprinkled throughout. The sisters are a completely likeable pair as are some of the other characters that you encounter. Ms. Greenslade included enough mystery to keep the reader engaged and curious until the end. In spite of some harrowing moments this book felt cal ...more
Shelter, by Frances Greenslade, is beautifully written, sensitive and compassionate. It follows two sisters as they come of age in the 1970s Chilcotin. With their father dead, the mother abandons the girls with some friends of their father and disappears. The girls expect her to return any time but, when her sister Jenny gets in trouble, Maggie decides they can’t wait any longer and sets out to look for her. What she discovers is a woman far more complex than the simple word “Mom” could convey; ...more
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I was born in the Niagara Peninsula and grew up playing in the orchards and vineyards around our family's farm. I can remember climbing under the thickest cover of grape vines to read and write stories in the long grass there. At about age 11, when we moved to Winnipeg, I wrote my first novel, on a desk made of boards, in the crawlspace of our house. The st

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