A Novel

Book - 2018
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A New York Times Bestseller

Named one of the Best Books of the Year (2018) by NPR, O, The Oprah Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek

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.

Publisher: New York : Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2018.
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9780062684561
Branch Call Number: KINGSOLV
Characteristics: 464 pages ; 24 cm


Featured Blogs and Events

An Eloquent And Provocative New Barbara Kingsolver Novel

Unsheltered is more than the title of Barbara Kingsolver's new book; it is the thoughtful overarching metaphor which connects the characters from two distinct time frames in one place. Kingsolver juxtaposes turmoil from today and the past, and yet wit and resilience are found throughout each storyline via gripping dialogue between the characters—their struggles and solace are found in vivid… (more)

An Eloquent And Provocative New Barbara Kingsolver Novel

Unsheltered is more than the title of Barbara Kingsolver's new book; it is the thoughtful overarching metaphor which connects the characters from two distinct time frames in one place. Kingsolver juxtaposes turmoil from today and the past, and yet wit and resilience are found throughout each storyline via gripping dialogue between the characters—their struggles and solace are found in vivid… (more)

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From Library Staff

The Protester & The Tree Hugger

Set in the Pine Barren region of New Jersey, Kingsolver's newest novel features parallel narratives juxtaposing society's turmoil from today with the past. Real-life naturalist Mary Treat is among the most charismatic and intriguing characters. There is wit and resilience expressed in gripping di... Read More »

Unsheltered features alternating chapters of 19th and 21st century stories both set in New Jersey's Pine Barren region. Anthill by E.O. Wilson is a similarly thought-provoking and richly detailed novel which echoes reverence for the natural world of rural Alabama & Florida.

LPL_ShirleyB Sep 19, 2018

Kingsolver’s new novel is complex juxtaposing parallel stories of the social turmoil we’re experiencing today with 19th century religious challenges to science and evolution. Wit and resilience are expressed in gripping dialogue between the characters—their struggles and solace found in vivid con... Read More »

From the critics

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Feb 08, 2021

It is lovely to have Barbara Kingsolver back with a new novel. She speaks with a gentle, wise voice and creates great characters. Highly recommended!! Kristi & Abby Tabby

Nov 03, 2020

Barbara Kingsolver loves to explore science in much detail and this exploration sinks into boredom. Kingsolver jumps into two family sagas which delight but then fall into tedious dribble. Each family encounters the deterioration of the actual home and the family unit. The language and characters resonate beautifully, but too much detail dampens the story. Kingsolver explores each family one from the past and one from the present with complete understanding of the problems plaguing each generation and how each family handles life’s dilemmas.

Jun 06, 2020

This book was insightful, beautiful and funny--nothing less than I have come to expect from Kingsolver. It is also one of the most relevant books I have read in recent years.

Mar 10, 2020

I read this for March 2020 book club. It was Susan's choice. I really liked it. The character of Tig spoke for this generation of young people. Their world is totally different than mind was.

Feb 25, 2020

Here's what I identified with: the failing, leaking, crumbling, drafty old, old house, and the impossible expense of repairs. By the time the entire family camps in the parlor to stay warm, I was visualizing them. How clever to build a story around this powerful theme of shelter!

Nov 27, 2019

Meh. I picked this book up mainly because I had never read any Kingsolver. It seemed like an interesting concept - even though we learn that the two families did NOT live in the same house - just on the same tract of land. (My book group says it's not her best.) The not-so-veiled references to Trump was a little heavy-handed. (Though I do find the name "Bullhorn" hysterical.) She makes it pretty 'obvi' what her political leanings are and her feelings about what's happening in Cuba as voiced through Tig. The bit about Mary Treat being an actual historical figure is cool. On the whole, I found it preachy and boring. Sorry, Barbara. I'm sure you can do better.

Nov 18, 2019

I read and listened to this book. The reader is Barbara Kingsolver and she did a good job. This book started out slowly for me, as I was loathe to find out what trouble the characters were in. But her wonderful phraseology and description of things pulled me in. Her characters were complex and interesting. There are alot of layers in this book, and my book club did not have time to discuss as much as I would have liked. The overriding topics were representative of the mess we find ourselves in today. Some people felt she preached or over-stated her case; I felt it was "spot on".

Oct 13, 2019

A novel set in the same house, 150 years apart, draws parallels between Trump's America and the community established by a despotic, creationist leader of a New Jersey town in the late 19th century. There is a non-subtle use of characters to represent differing perspectives without attacking the underlying reasons for the current problems of climate change and corporate greed. Nevertheless, this book is so much more interesting than the bulk of meaningless popular fiction on the shelves today.

IndyPL_TomP Aug 02, 2019

At one point in the book, Kingsolver has a character say “It just seems like…I don’t know. There’s less money in the world than there used to be. I don’t know how else to put it. Like something’s broken.” Two critics, one writing in the Atlantic and another in The New York Times, built negative criticism around that utterance, which really surprised me. Read Kingsolver's most recent novel (2018) and see what you think.

Jun 13, 2019

Have just discovered Kingsolver and absolutely loved the symmetry, the imagery, the social statements, the fluidity of style, the juxtaposed conflict of characters and the thought-provoking single word title. All of these elements are proof of a master writer, able to evoke and discuss scientific fact through fiction. The challenge of a realistic younger generation accepting the adjustment and adaptation to a changed world in the face of an older generation's decline because of ideological beliefs in an ever-distant old world order is not a new theme, but what hits home is the fact that this is so well described in the present context, not another study of past generations.

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Jun 09, 2020

And anyway, gross domestic product is a stupid way to measure a country’s success.

May 26, 2020

It was pretty clear there would be no stopping the Bullhorn, or someone like him. Here was the earthquake, the fire, the flood, and melting permafrost, with everyone still grabbing for bricks to put in their pockets rather than walking out of the wreck and looking for light.


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Jan 10, 2020

Everything changes &nothing changes; we must struggle incredibly to see beyond the culture &historical epoch of which we are apart.


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