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 shelters from pine boughs and telling stories by the fire with their doting father and beautiful, adventurous mother. But at night, Maggie—a born worrier—would count the freckles on her father’s weathered arms, listening for the peal of her mother’s laughter in the kitchen, and never stop praying to keep them all safe from harm. Then her worst fears come true: Not long after Maggie’s tenth birthday, their father is killed in a logging accident, and a few months later, their mother abruptly drops the girls at a neighbor’s house, promising to return. She never does.
With deep compassion and sparkling prose, Frances Greenslade’s mesmerizing debut takes us inside the extraordinary strength of these two girls as they are propelled from the quiet, natural freedom in which they were raised to a world they can’t begin to fathom. Even as the sisters struggle to understand how their mother could abandon them, they keep alive the hope that she is fighting her way back to the daughters who adore her and who need her so desperately.
Heartwarming and lushly imagined, Shelter celebrates the love between two sisters and the complicated bonds of family. It is an exquisitely written ode to sisters, mothers, daughters, and to a woman’s responsibility to herself and those she loves.
Reading Group Guide
In the wilds of Duchess Creek, British Columbia, Jenny and Maggie Dillon grow up in a quirky but tight-knit family. When Maggie is ten, however, a logging accident kills their father. A few months later, just as the sisters are beginning to get back on their feet, their mother abruptly drops them with family friends in a nearby town, promising to return in a few weeks. She never does.
As Maggie and Jenny learn to make the best of their new life, they cannot help but wonder how their warm and loving mother could have willingly abandoned them—and if she did not, then what happened to her? Maggie’s struggle to answer this question forms the heart of Shelter, a gorgeous debut that celebrates the love between two sisters and the complicated bonds of family.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. Discuss the different women who play the role of mother to Maggie and Jenny. Could any be labeled “good” mothers, or at least “better,” than the others? Wha see more