Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Unsheltered; Barbara Kingsolver



TITLE: Unsheltered
AUTHOR: Barbara Kingsolver
PUBLISHER: Harper
PUB. YEAR: 2018
SETTING:  Vineland, New Jersey
FORMAT:  - eGalley & ARC
RATING: 3.5/5 stars

Unsheltered is a story about the loss of the American Dream. The novel tells two stories in two different time periods, both stories take place in the community of Vineland, New Jersey and even the same, somewhat run down house.  

The present story features Willa Knox, her husband Iano, a college professor,  and adult children Zeke and daughter Tig.  Nick, the cranky, racist, FIL is also in the picture.  He has a difficult personality and is also dying of cancer. Son Zeke, with an Ivy League education and $100,000 of debt, has been dealt yet another bad blow.  When his bread winner girlfriend commits suicide, Zeke is forced to return home to his parents with his infant son in tow. Added to their other challenges is daughter Tig,  free-spirited, argumentative and just plain exasperating at times.

So just when Willa and her husband should be at a point in their lives when they should be able to kick back a bit and begin to enjoy the fruits of their labors, they must deal with a house that is falling apart, job losses, additional mouths to feed and an uncertain financial future. 

The second story, set around 1871 involves Thatcher Greenwood, a new science teacher and Mary Treat, a lover and believer of science and plants. Thatcher is met with obstacles when he tries to promote the theories of Charles Darwin.

I really loved the present day story, but, found myself less than thrilled with the 150 year old storyline. The writing was good but, it felt like the author tried too hard to cover too many controversial, political issues: the living wage, healthcare rights, Obamacare, student loans etc., Even though I agree with many of these issues, it just seemed preachy and out of place at times.  I've enjoyed almost everything that Kingsolver has written, and although I'm glad I read this one, it just wasn't my favorite.

25 comments:

  1. I know what you mean about an author trying to cram too many issues into a story. I love Kingsolver's writing, though, so I'll still probably give this a try.

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    1. I've really enjoyed this author in the past as well. I don't like when authors seem to cram in political hot issues. These days with all the terrible new, I don't need to read about it when I try to escape.

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  2. Yep, sometimes ya get too many noodles in the pot.

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  3. I don't enjoy books that have too much going on.

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  4. I am almost done with the book and I feel the same way. She tackles a lot but with everything going on in the world I feel like it's better to pick one topic and go in strong.

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    1. Yes, for me, with all the disturbing issues on the news each day, please, don't remind me of it in my fiction.

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  5. I have been wanting to try a Barbara Kingsolver book, but this story has a lot going on. I hope that you're having a great week, Diane!

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    1. Monica, I liked her earlier books much better. This wasn't bad, just not her best.

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  6. I loved Kingsolver's books up until Prodigal Summer, but have had less luck since then.

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    1. Her earlier books were the best. I haven't read ALL, but, most of her books.

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  7. Great review Diane. I think I'll take a pass on it -- why did she include 2 time period stories? Sounds like too much going on in this novel.

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    1. Not sure, I don't love that type of format personally.

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  8. I like the two time frames. Thank you for the review.

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  9. Well it sounds like the kind of novel Kingsolver usually writes. I am sorry it didn't work better for you. I look forward to reading it and will post my review after I do.

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  10. I'm surprised that the historical storyline was not better than the present day one; usually that's the way it goes. Too bad there were a few too many issues thrown into the mix, handled in a preachy style.

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    1. It was actually confusing at first. On my Kindle, I almost thought I was reading 2 diff novels briefly.

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  11. It sometimes bothers me when stories jump around from time period to the present and vice versa, but am willing to try this one.

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  12. It does seem like the scope was too large to put it all in a book. Still though, I love her writing so I may have to try this one out eventually.

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  13. I often find that, when there are two timelines, one appeals a lot more than the other - and I just find myself waiting for the lesser one to end so I can get back to better one! I had this recently with Mrs Gaskell & Me by Nell Stevens. Still, sounds like it's worth checking out nonetheless :)

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  14. Hi Diane,
    Hmmm...Both storylines don't seem to grab my attention much, and this goes for other of her books. I simply loved The Poisonwood Bible and The Prodigal Summer. But since then, I haven't been reading her work and I can't help but feel that this is a failing of mine. Ken loves her books, and he read The Lacuna, which I did not.

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