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3.63  ·  Rating details ·  53,186 ratings  ·  7,481 reviews
A timely novel that interweaves past and present to explore the human capacity for resiliency and compassion in times of great upheaval.

Willa Knox has always prided herself on being the embodiment of responsibility for her family. Which is why it’s so unnerving that she’s arrived at middle age with nothing to show for her hard work and dedication but a stack of unpaid bill
Published October 16th 2018 by HarperAudio
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Laurie Gough I am with you. I'm so disappointed in this book because I like Kingsolver so much as a public figure and essayist. There's no way I can finish it. All…moreI am with you. I'm so disappointed in this book because I like Kingsolver so much as a public figure and essayist. There's no way I can finish it. All the characters are mouthpieces for her politics. I'm being lectured at with every sentence. Just because I agree with her politics doesn't mean I want to read a novel where the dialogue is so stage managed it feels like high school writing. I can't believe an editor let her get away with this. (less)
Mary Jane Rouse As an experienced literary fiction reader, I found this extremely tedious. The parallel stories were interesting, but not compelling; so I continued t…moreAs an experienced literary fiction reader, I found this extremely tedious. The parallel stories were interesting, but not compelling; so I continued to the end. Not her best writing.(less)

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Average rating 3.63  · 
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 ·  53,186 ratings  ·  7,481 reviews

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Emily May
Jul 03, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-lit, 2018
I don't know how I managed to finish this book. I'm sure I wouldn't have if I wasn't so reluctant to write a DNF review and deal with the inevitable backlash (how can you possibly say you didn't like it when you didn't even finish it?!)

Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible is a great book, IMO, and it's hard to believe the same well-respected author wrote something this didactic and heavy-handed. There were parts where I felt like the only thing that separated Unsheltered from being an essay was t
Dorie  - Cats&Books :)
This is the first book by this author that I did not finish, here's why.

OK this was a huge disappointment for me but in hindsight I guess I should have seen it coming. I loved Kingsolver's earlier books but this one was just so political it was boring and tiring. I don't enjoy reading a book that makes me feel as though I'm being lectured to. I grew tired of the God vs evolution discussion, the health care, climate change etc etc etc.

There is so much of all of this discussion in the news and eve
Will Byrnes
The simplest thing would be to tear it down,” the man said. “The house is a shambles.”
You do the right thing. You go to school, spend the years, invest the money, put off this or that temporary form of glee, take on the debt, pay it off. Get a job at the bottom of the ladder, work X number of years and move up. There are mis-steps, of course, accidents, bad decisions, re-directions, disappointments. Some big, some less so, everyone has these. You get married, have children, be a solid citize
Angela M
Sep 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars
I know when I read a Kingsolver book that it will most likely be about social issues, perhaps political too, so I wasn’t surprised. At first I thought there were maybe too many issues thrown in - affording to live, affording to die, health care, the environment, bigotry, and yes the politics of the day. A college closes and Willa Knox’s husband loses his tenured position and pension and they lose their home. The magazine she worked for went broke and she is forced to freelance. Iano ha
Cathrine ☯️
4✚ 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜
If there was such a prize this one might win The Most Polarizing Novel of 2018. You will most likely be down there on the grass counting spiders with Mrs. Treat or staring at her from your window thinking she’s a crazy bug lady.
I’m a huge BK fan but began this with some apprehension. A fair share of fans and friends did not find this a rewarding reading experience. I read several professional reviews after the fact and most were not singing praises or were downright unkind in their rem
Diane S ☔
3.5 Upon my completion of this book, I was left with a serious conundrum. What do I rate this? I actually finished a few days ago, a read with Angela and Esil, and have been pondering that question throughout. One expects when reading Kingsolver to be confronted with her opinions, political, environmentally or something to do with the natural world. Here she gives us all three, in two different stories, ons in the past, one in the present. The connection being the house that is lived in that hap ...more
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2018
Kingsolver has been my favorite author for decades, since The Bean Trees swept me away 30 years ago. With Unsheltered, she has given us another gem. The best novels, I believe, are those that defy easy description. Unsheltered is about shelter, which we find in structures, people, nature, and work. It’s about the discoveries of science that are often put up against the ideas of faith. It’s about today’s sad political climate in which our true climate, our Earth, is in crisis. And it’s about peop ...more
Aug 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
First of all, I want to shout out a word of thanks to the Goodreads FirstRead program and to the publisher, HarperCollins, for giving me the pleasure of becoming an early reader for one of my favored authors. You guys are the best!

I’ve read most of Barbara Kingsolver’s books and the one thing I learned a while back is that you don’t go into her books without expecting a strong point of view. In an accompanying letter, Ms. Kingsolver writes, “What I know for sure is that stories will get us throu
Chelsea Humphrey
Oct 03, 2018 marked it as dnf-lost-interest  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chelsea by: Leigh Kramer
Shelves: from-publisher
Unfortunately, I'm going to have to DNF this one for now. It's my first from the author, and from what I'm hearing from beloved fans, I need to pick up a different one and give it a shot. <3

*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my copy.
Oct 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kingsolver has nailed it again for me. Unsheltered was a confronting, absorbing, thoughtful read- a novel of our times. I’m predisposed to like this a lot for a number of reasons; most importantly that Kingsolver draws of some of my favourite narrative devices- parallel narratives, and the use of place as character. At some level, this is a novel about a house, crumbling without foundations. More importantly it is a novel about the significance of foundations in our lives; how we build and negle ...more
Ron Charles
Oct 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Here comes the first major novel to tackle the Trump era straight on and place it in the larger chronicle of existential threats. Kingsolver has constructed this book as two interlaced stories, separated by more than a century. The contemporary story in “Unsheltered” offers a collage of Democratic talking points acted out in the lives of a middle-class family slipping down the ladder of success. Ironically, the alternate chapters of “Unsheltered,” set in the 1870s, are fresher and more rewarding ...more
Apr 05, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Welcome to The Big Book of Dialogues! I have never in my life read this big amount of unnecessary blabber between characters, I simply can’t believe that one experienced author could put all this in a novel and expect people to read it with excitement. Some of the topics that were discussed casually, during dinner or a simple walk around the neighborhood: molecules, unsustainable economy, Darwin’s theory, digestion of spiders, house reparations, Obamacare, insurance. All this lead nowhere!

I was
Nov 04, 2018 rated it liked it
3+ stars

I loved Barbara Kingsolver’s earlier books. But I haven’t loved her more recent books as much. She remains a good writer and still has deep insight into people and their complexities, but there’s an edge of preachiness to her writing that I find a bit jarring — even if I tend to agree with what she is preaching about.

Unsheltered was yet another such book. Told in two timelines, Unsheltered tells the stories of people pushed out to the margins making do and forming communities. In the con
The importance of keeping one's house in order despite a shaky foundation, deterioration and rot festering within the walls and overhead.  Can it even be done?  With little common ground, the broken pieces of lives lie just under the surface, waiting to emerge and injure again.    

Preachy as hell, to the point of distraction.  Enough is enough, and too much is just foolish.  Say sorry, but a once favored author of mine has slipped into tepidity for me.  If not for the intriguingly tricky family
Bonnie Brody
Sep 02, 2018 rated it did not like it
I used to love Barbara Kingsolver's writing. The Poisonwood Bible, Bean Trees, and Animal Dreams are some of my favorite novels. But then she started getting very preachy, using her novels for what I interpret as authorial interjection. I feel lectured by her on a variety of subjects that must be close to her heart. In fact, many of her causes are close to my own heart. Despite this commonality of social consciousness and politics, that is not what I want to find in a novel. I want to be transpo ...more
Anne Bogel
Nov 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Barbara Kingsolver is a must-read author for me. I love her work, especially The Poisonwood Bible. At 466 pages, this is a long book, but I inhaled it.

Kingsolver writes that she is explicitly addressing the events of her time, but she does that in part by looking back: her double narrative follows the life-changing decisions and uncertain times experienced by two separate families, one hundred years apart, who both live in the same home in Vineland, New Jersey.

Kingsolver found one heck of a su
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Sep 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Every time I start reading a book I love I find myself slowing down, setting the book down in the middle of a chapter, rereading a page or two, going back and reading an earlier chapter again—-doing anything, in short, in order to prolong the experience, to avoid the inevitable last page.

That’s how I felt about Unsheltered.

There is so much to admire about this book. The structure of the novel is brilliantly constructed. Kingsolver tells two stories, one in present day, and one just after the Ci
Sep 27, 2018 rated it liked it
I was looking forward to reading this book because I've loved several of Barbara Kingsolver's novels. Unfortunately I just couldn't find a connection to this one. I couldn't develop and depth of feeling for any of the characters nor with the plot, so definitely not a favorite for me.

The writing was, of course, really good and Kingsolver's style shone through. The current story and the story set in the past segued well and were relevant easily to each other. The only character I really liked was
Let's make it short and sweet. Jarring, tedious, boring, preachy, political rant disguised as a novel. A keyboard-warrior on steroids. I loved the author's earlier works. I simply could not finish this book as much as I tried. It was my last read of this author. This was a gigantic waste of valuable time. What an utter disappointment.

Perhaps I've read, and still read, too many, and way more interesting and riveting non-fictional books on the chosen subjects in this book.

One star rating = I did
May 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Full disclosure: I am a Barbara Kingsolver fan.

Willa is supposed to "have it all." Married to a college professor, a writer herself, her children launched, life should be good...but it's not. Transplanted to New Jersey, she is jobless, her academic husband is wildly underemployed and her wayward daughter, her terminally ill, Archie Bunkerish father-in-law and an infant grandson who is NOT her daughter's child are all living under her roof. Roof barely covers it: the home, an inheritance, is a s
Feb 04, 2020 rated it liked it

3.5 stars

The town of Vineland, New Jersey - about 35 miles from Philadelphia - was founded by Charles Landis in the 1800s to be an alcohol-free community with pleasant homes, small farms, and enough space for shade trees and flowers.

This dual timeline novel, set in Vineland, revolves around two families who live on the same block 150 years apart.

In the 1870s, Thatcher Greenwood, his wife Rose, his mother-in-law Aurelia, and his preteen sister-in-law Polly move to Vineland to reside in the home
Elyse  Walters
Jun 27, 2022 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audiobook
Audiobook…read by Barbara Kingsolver
…..16 hours and 38 minutes

Barbara Kingsolver has an inviting voice…. (first time I’ve heard her voice).
“The Poisonwood Bible” and
“The Bean Trees” were wonderful reading treasures: still memorable many years later…..
But I never finished her book, “The Lucuna”…
and it’s seems I’m tossing in the towel again with “Unsheltered”…

Appreciating an authors work, humanitarian is one thing —
yet in both books
I felt like I was reading Wikipedia half the time.
The beginni
Nov 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
A masterfully written dual timeline narrative, with unique and well drawn characters.


Unsheltered is a story of two families, who lived near the corner of Sixth and Plum in Vineland, New Jersey over 140 years apart. Both families are struggling with financial, political and social issues of their times.

It’s 2016 and Willa Knox and her husband are in their 50’s and nearing retirement. They have worked hard, followed all the rules and have nothing to show for it, but debts and a ho
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it

I have been reading Barbara Kingsolver for years and I love her writing. As it has been noted in Goodreads reviews, recently she has gotten on a preachy kick. I first felt I was being given a sermon in Flight Behavior. This tendency to use a novel as a pulpit certainly continues in Unsheltered. Don't get me wrong. I am gravely concerned with the plight of the monarch butterfly. I am far from a Trump fan and global w
Apr 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
There is so much to unpack here, and even though it could have been very heavy-handed, I appreciated the commentary and the way she weaved the stories together and analyzed modern politics in light of historical shifts in thought. I also really grew to love the characters; I could have read individual novels about each of the protagonists. Will definitely check out more of Kingsolver's works. ...more
Oct 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Unsheltered is the ninth novel by best-selling, prize-winning American novelist, essayist, and poet, Barbara Kingsolver. Now in her fifties, Willa Knox never expected to be living in a run-down house in Vineland, New Jersey, still the hub of a family that includes her two adult children, her new grandson, her debilitated, demanding father-in-law and an ageing dog.

Virtually unemployed, Willa is writing some freelance articles; her university professor husband Iano has a low-paid teaching job; he
Dec 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Expecting a warm and fuzzy, family-focused story in the Ann Tyler mode; I chose to read Unsheltered, a story about two different families living in the same house 140 years apart. What I got instead was a novel jam-packed with political overtones—the flaws of capitalism, the demise of the middle-class, the public’s disbelief in scientific advances [Darwinism in the 1870s; climate change today], the willful submission of the population to ‘oligarchs’, and our Byzantine health insurance system.

Feb 03, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-clubs
When I was thirteen, my parents bought a farm that had been uninhabited for 20 years. The first architect my mother took to see it, handed her a pack of matches. So, when this book starts with a contractor telling Willa her house needed to come down, I felt a kinship. But at least my parents’ house had good bones (and they had the money to fix it up). Not this place. As we go back in time, we see other contractors deriding the house and it’s poor construction. And Willa and Iano lack the proverb ...more
Lou (nonfiction fiend)
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Barbara Kingsolver has resided amongst my favourite authors for quite some time, so every time she publishes new work, I am there to read it! As always, her meticulously observed social commentary is on-point and thought-provoking, and although this is a work of fiction much of what is said relates to current real-world issues. If you are looking for a lighthearted, easy read, this is not it. However, if like me you enjoy ruminations on the big topical issues, then this is not a novel you want t ...more
Nat K

"Sometimes the right thing isn't a thing but a person," "And that's me?" "And that's you."

A curious thing that I noticed about this book is that the last two words of a chapter form the title of the next chapter. Clever! That’s a nice quirky bit of writing. It took a while for this to sink in, around the Chapter 5 mark. I’ve no idea why it stuck out to me so much at that particular point. I’ve not noticed this style used in any other book.

The story revolves around one crumbling family home in Vi
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Barbara Kingsolver is an American novelist, essayist, and poet. She was raised in rural Kentucky and lived briefly in Africa in her early childhood. Kingsolver earned degrees in Biology at DePauw University and the University of Arizona and worked as a freelance writer before she began writing novels. Her most famous works include The Poisonwood Bible, the tale of a missionary family in the Congo, ...more

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“I suppose it is in our nature,” she said finally. “When men fear the loss of what they know, they will follow any tyrant who promises to restore the old order.” 25 likes
“Unsheltered, I live in daylight. And like the wandering bird I rest in thee.” 12 likes
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