I was worried that this latest Barbara Kingsolver book would leave me flat, but she came through in the clutch. Unsheltered, published in 2018, explores contemporary pangs and challenges of US society through a vivid, powerful, poignant pair of stories. The first half felt slow; I kept waiting for something interesting to happen. But the last third of the book thoroughly absorbed me. Part of that was personal resonance. One central character has a new grandchild, an aging in-law, a geriatric dog, and two grown children who inspire pointed reflection into her personal, marital, and parental past. Spending yesterday with my new grandchild, my aging in-law, and all of my grown children gave the book’s characters and situations powerful immediacy.
To add to the personal resonance, the same protagonist is a writer who gets absorbed by explorations into the life of a woman from the past who (maybe) used to live in her old home. Once her two stories accelerated towards colliding within themselves and with each other, I found it hard to put the book down. Kingsolver is insightful and passionate. Through her characters, I found myself questioning my values, the things I cling to, and our current political and environmental descent from our catastrophic, Edenic ignorance.
Anyway – in the end, I strongly recommend it. Important food for thought for anyone alive today, but particularly for anyone close to the Boomer generation.
My 60th year in 60,000 words
Day 94: 233 words, TOTAL = 15,864; 44,136 remaining
Robin Clifford Wood is a writer and writing teacher. She lives in central Maine with her husband and dogs, loves to be outdoors, and enjoys ever-expanding horizons through her grown children and their multi-species families.