Shelter is the fourth book I've read from the Ontario Library Association’s 2012 Evergreen list. The novel is narrated by teenager Maggie, who lives in a remote part of British Columbia with her mother and older sister Jenny. Soon after the death of Maggie’s father, her mother leaves the sisters in the care of a foster family to pursue work. When communication from her mother ceases and her sister is faced with a personal crisis, Maggie embarks on a search for her mother and in the process, learns much about her family and herself.
Initially, I had some doubts about this book, which seemed to me the stereotypical Canadian novel, with its treatment of the wilderness, survival and isolation. However, I soon became immersed in this very readable story told simply and beautifully. Shelter is a very strong first novel from Frances Greenslade, and I look forward to reading more from this author.
I've always loved reading from the Evergreen list, as it has encouraged me to discover new Canadian writers that I might not hear about otherwise, and this year's list is again successful in that respect. However, it looks like we will hear more of Frances Greenslade in the near future, as Shelter has been gaining recognition in other parts of the world (e.g. being included on Waterstone's Best Debut Novels of 2012).