by Barbara Kingsolver

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New York Times bestseller

An NPR pick for Best Books of 2018

An O, The Oprah Magazine's Best Book of 2018

A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2018

One of Christian Science Monitor's best fiction reads of 2018

One of Newsweek's Best Books of the year

The New York Times bestselling author of Flight Behavior, The Lacuna, and The Poisonwood Bible and recipient of numerous literary awards—including the National Humanities Medal, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and the Orange Prize—returns with a timely novel that interweaves past and present to explore the human capacity for resiliency and compassion in times of great upheaval.

How could two hardworking people do everything right in life, a woman asks, and end up destitute? Willa Knox and her husband followed all the rules as responsible parents and professionals, and have nothing to show for it but debts and an inherited brick house that is falling apart. The magazine where Willa worked has folded; the college where her husband had tenure has closed. Their dubious shelter is also the only option for a disabled father-in-law and an exasperating, free-spirited daughter. When the family’s one success story, an Ivy-educated son, is uprooted by tragedy he seems likely to join them, with dark complications of his own.

In another time, a troubled husband and public servant asks, How can a man tell the truth, and be reviled for it? A science teacher with a passion for honest investigation, Thatcher Greenwood finds himself under siege: his employer forbids him to speak of the exciting work just published by Charles Darwin. His young bride and social-climbing mother-in-law bristle at the risk of scandal, and dismiss his worries that their elegant house is unsound. In a village ostensibly founded as a benevolent Utopia, Thatcher wants only to honor his duties, but his friendships with a woman scientist and a renegade newspaper editor threaten to draw him into a vendetta with the town’s powerful men.

Unsheltered is the compulsively readable story of two families, in two centuries, who live at the corner of Sixth and Plum in Vineland, New Jersey, navigating what seems to be the end of the world as they know it. With history as their tantalizing canvas, these characters paint a startlingly relevant portrait of life in precarious times when the foundations of the past have failed to prepare us for the future.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062684745
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/16/2018
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 496
Sales rank: 1,355
File size: 5 MB

About the Author

Barbara Kingsolver is the author of nine bestselling works of fiction, including the novels, Flight Behavior, The Lacuna, The Poisonwood Bible, Animal Dreams, and The Bean Trees, as well as books of poetry, essays, and creative nonfiction. Her work of narrative nonfiction is the enormously influential bestseller Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. Kingsolver’s work has been translated into more than twenty languages and has earned literary awards and a devoted readership at home and abroad. She was awarded the National Humanities Medal, our country’s highest honor for service through the arts, as well as the prestigious Dayton Literary Peace Prize for her body of work. She lives with her family on a farm in southern Appalachia.

Date of Birth:

April 8, 1955

Place of Birth:

Annapolis, Maryland


B.A., DePauw University, 1977; M.S., University of Arizona, 1981

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Unsheltered: A Novel 3.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a beautiful story of generations and how they take care of and are effected by each other.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've been a fan from the start, but I find this book so boring I can't finish it. I made it to page 168. I'm sorry but these characters do nothing for me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed the contrast of 2 families living in the same house a century apart.
Anonymous 3 months ago
I really wanted to like this book. I have read and enjoyed quite a few BK novels over the years. BK is a wonderfully gifted writer, and I so enjoy reading and learning about the flora and fauna of wherever she is basing her story on. The descriptions of her characters are not completely accurate, but I find they're close enough to still pen a decent story. She can be a bit preachy and one-sided in her novels, but again I can overlook much for a decent read. This book does try to follow in the footsteps of her previous novels, and in many ways, it is just as well written. I got almost three hundred pages in when I just had to stop. The book was just too tiresome and too partisan, and I found I couldn't overlook the inaccuracies enough to enjoy it. This is coming from an apolitical voter. The main character struck me as a sanctimonious prig of a woman. I'm a voracious reader and mostly read books for pleasure and escape. Had I been seeking a lecture in moral superiority I would have turned to TV, social media or my own family and saved the $12.00 I spent on the novel. Although I'm sure it was not the author's intention to appear sanctimonious, it must be remembered that people grow weary of being lectured and talked down to after a while. Writing is too competitive a field to alienate such a large portion of his or her readers. I do not write such things out of spite or viciousness. I hope this review will be taken in the spirit intended, which is constructive criticism.
Anonymous 3 months ago
I did not finish the book . it was a terrible book. the characters were so uninteresting and bland. The story dragged on and on. First book I read by this author and it will be my last.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Did not enjoy this book. Only finished because it was for my book club.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Giving up there is nothing likable about these characters partly because there is very little character development. Seems more attention given to building a sentence than tying it all together in a story. Pushed myself to page 200, I have stopped reading maybe 2 books in 50 years of reading. This is one of them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Okay I am confused. It doesn't seem like the reviewers read the same book! I read the reviews to decide whether or not this would be a good gift for a friend and I am so disappointed. The "glowing" reviews are seemingly written by the publisher.
PharisLW More than 1 year ago
I love Barbara Kingsolver's writing...her educated background brings credibility and richness to her stories' surroundings and situations. For me this book was a cliffhanger and a page-turner, a psychological roller coaster. There were many moments I had to lay down the book and just go "Wow." The Belgian Congo's upheaval which runs through the spine of this story happened during my teen years, but this book puts it all back in context. You'll come away understanding more about the Congolese culture, for sure.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I both devoured this book and forced myself to slow down in the hopes that it would last forever. I can’t get enough Kingsolver - her work continues to shape my community and order my experiences. I am grateful.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the first chapter, but that was it. Gave up completely after four chapters. Almost feel bad about giving it to my favorite used book store -- really boring, really preachy, really just not good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An insightful journey into the minds and lives of two families a century apart. A thoughtful and delightful read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was unable to finish this book
LeslieLindsay More than 1 year ago
Meticulously observed, thought-provoking novel straddling two time periods unites political and social commentary in a 'novel' form, but it might not be for everybody. I heard about UNSHELTERED (October 2018, Harper) even before it came out. I was immediately enthralled with the premise of it being a slightly-historical narrative featuring an old house--on Plum Street, no less (our first home as newlyweds was located on a Plum Street) in an actual (non-fictive community). In my mind, UNSHELTERED would be a lovely smash up of LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE (Celeste Ng) meets Tom Perrotta's LITTLE CHILDREN meets Lauren Acampora (THE WONDER GARDEN), with a nice, healthy dose of Barbara Kingsolver's gripping commentary. UNSHELTERED was not what I was expecting. That said, it's not exactly a *bad* book, it just wasn't for me. I wanted more about the old house and less about the social and political world. UNSHELTERED is primarily about shelter--whether that's in the form of tangible structure, people, nature, work, whatever gives one a sense of comfort. The first chapter completely had me sucked in, and I so wanted the entire book to read in that fashion...but UNSHELTERED quickly took a nosedive, which I say with apprehension, might be a polarizing read. Willa Knox seems to have it all--she's in her 50s, a writer, and her husband is a college professor. They've raised two children--now in their 20s and have relocated to the small New Jersey town of Vineland as a last resort. Willa's magazine has closed and her husband, Iano lost his tenured professor position when his college shut its doors. He's now an adjunct and she's freelancing. The house they've moved to is old, crumbling, falling down. Her son's partner has a baby, and then something horrific happens to her. This is what I was really enjoying. Switching perspectives to the late 1870s, we get a second story about the founding of Vineland--a Utopian community built upon Christian principles. This is where the stories are meant to intersect--and they do--it just takes some time to get there. Willa begins looking into the history of her newly inherited crumbling Victorian (perhaps there's some money in preservation trusts that could help with the upkeep?) and learns a forward-thinking, barrier-breaking naturalist who was a correspondence of Charles Darwin used to live in the house. Maybe. Possibly. Every other chapter alternates between these two storylines, but at first, this is jarring, disorienting and I don't typically feel that way about bifurcated narratives. Kingsolver is a fabulous writer, witty and wry at times, but UNSHELTERED missed the mark for me. I found it too preachy and lecturing, though she does honor [women] biologists and anthropologists; plus she's very on-point about the political and social, as well as meteorological climates...but I don't know...I just didn't appreciate like I had hoped.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have a personal prejudice against authors/books that adopt trendy crises, topics, even cultural references, and I found this book to be filled with all of these. How many of these tragedies are we to read about -- young professionals who do not want to commit to marriage, out of wedlock children, drug addiction, massive student loan debt, housing crisis, out-of-work baby-boomers, younger child who is eschewing higher education after traveling to Cuba? The list was simply endless. I could not get interested in the characters or the incredible number of 21st century tragedies that have occurred in this one family.
TRFeller 9 months ago
Sometimes your plans for life do not work out. At an age when she should be contemplating retirement, Willa Knox, named for author Willa Cather, lost her job as a magazine editor when the magazine folded, and then her husband, lost his tenured professorship when his 139 year old college went bankrupt. Now her college drop-out daughter has moved back in with them, her terminally ill father-in-law also lives with them, the family dog is also terminally ill, her son’s girlfriend and mother of her grandson commits suicide, and that grandson comes to live in her house. Speaking of which, they all live in a run-down house that she recently inherited from an aunt in Vineland, New Jersey, a real town, and a contractor she contacted to do repairs advises her to tear it down and start all over again. Zeke, the son, is a graduate of Stanford and Harvard, has considerable student debt and is trying to start his own business, Iano, her husband, has found work with less pay and a one-year contract as an adjunct professor at a college in Philadelphia where his female students want to sleep with him, Tig, the daughter, has left-wing opinions and keeps unfavourably comparing life in the U.S. to Cuba, where she lived for two years, the parents of her son’s deceased girlfriend want nothing to do with their grandson, and Nick, her father-in-law, is a vocal Trump supporter. Ironically, Tig (short for Antigone) and Nick get along better than anyone else in the family. Willa’s chapters are set in 2015-2016 and alternate with those of Thatcher Greenwood, a high school science teacher who lives with his wife, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law in a house at the same address in 1874-1875. Thatcher wants to teach Evolution, but he is thwarted by both the school principal and the town’s founder. The house is falling apart as well. He is friends with his next door neighbour, a female scientist named Mary Treat, who actually existed, and Uri Carruth, a newspaper editor who is murdered. Willa discovers Treat through a local historian and starts to write a book about her. This is Kingsolver’s eighth novel, and it is quite readable, although preachy. Tig is her mouthpiece for expressing the author’s opinions on climate change, healthcare, education, and economics. The contemporary plot resembles the formula for a country-western song, especially the dying dog part, and I found the 19th Century story line to be the more interesting of the two, especially the murder trial.
Anonymous 10 months ago
As always, a transformative experience to read and digest a Barbara Kingsolver work of art.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The great clash of world views in the late 1800’s between science and religion and the fractures we see today around real science and the mythical constructs of fundamentalism and the religious right are nicely shown amid a backdrop of people’s lives and livelihoods.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TiBookChatter More than 1 year ago
Kingsolver is known for taking on the big issues and she does the same here. Unsheltered tells the story of two families, from two different centuries, who live in the same house. The present day family struggles financially. The house is in disrepair, they are caring for an elderly parent, insurance isn’t covering it and although they did everything right, this couple is on the brink of ruin. It’s a situation that many find themselves in and it’s definitely a story readers can relate to. But the other story, the one from the past, is not as compelling. That story involves science, truth and how the people of that time would rather turn a blind eye to Darwin’s research than investigate it. Two very different families but what they have in common is the home they live in. Interesting concept, but overall, it didn’t work for me. I loved the present day story, but really did not enjoy the story from the past and found myself skimming through it. I think there are a lot of things to ponder in Unsheltered such as our failing healthcare system, but the alternating timelines caused me to ultimately lose interest in the story as a whole.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book which was recommended to me by a family member. It had so many layers and really spoke beautifully about generational changes and fears. There were parts that if you read them literally might be a bit boring, but overall the humanity in the book is beautiful... it would make a great book for a discussion group.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kingsolver is a brilliant author! This novel is brilliant. Her characters are deeply formed and their voices are true. This is a must read!