The political undercurrent becomes intense at times.
Quotes from the book:
- “A mother can only be as happy as her unhappiest child. Willa believed in the power of worry to keep another human from flying out of orbit. Whatever was holding Tig here with her family, even in a falling house, might actually be the safest bet. for now.”
- “… this dude must have put in some time and gamed the system to get his billions, because that’s how it works in America. So it’s his turn to be president.”
- “Here in our own streets we have seen women in trousers! Desiring to lord themselves over men, turning against God’s own domestic harmony. All sense of order is sundered.
Plot summary: Vineland, New Jersey (real) is a town founded by Charles Landis (real) in the mid-nineteenth century. In 1871, Thatcher Greenwood (fictional), a science teacher moves into a house in Plum Street (real). His support of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution conflicts with the Headmaster, and he finds support from his neighbour, Mary Treat, a naturalist (real). In 2016, Willa Knox (fictional) moves to Plum Street (real), and finding herself in financial difficulty, struggles with government bureaucracy and distressing family issues. The house is falling down (actually and symbolically). Whilst trying to get heritage status for the house in order to finance the repairs, Willa discovers that the famous naturalist, Mary Treat (real), lived in the street and possibly the same house in 1871.
- “Kingsolver renders contemporary America as a panorama of such bleakness that the prospect of a loved-up, free-cycling sanctuary doesn’t quite wash. As a work of socially engaged fiction, Unsheltered makes a decent case for escapism.” Full review: The Guardian
- “As always, Kingsolver gives readers plenty to think about. Her warm humanism coupled with an unabashed point of view make her a fine 21st-century exponent of the honorable tradition of politically engaged fiction.” Full review: Kirkus