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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Shelterwood

Narrators: Christine Lakin, Dan Bittner,

Jenna Lamia

Random House Audio

ISBN: 9780593726501

Publisher: Random House

Publication Date: 06/04/2024

Format: Other

My Rating: 5 Stars (ARC)


From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours comes a sweeping novel inspired by the untold history of women pioneers who fought to protect children caught in the storm of land barons hungry for power and oil wealth.


Oklahoma, 1909. Eleven-year-old Olive Augusta Radley knows that her stepfather doesn’t have good intentions toward the two Choctaw girls boarded in their home as wards.


When the older girl disappears, Ollie flees to the woods, taking six-year-old Nessa with her. Together they begin a perilous journey to the remote Winding Stair Mountains, the notorious territory of outlaws, treasure hunters, and desperate men. Along the way, Ollie and Nessa form an unlikely band with others like themselves, struggling to stay one step ahead of those who seek to exploit them . . . or worse.


Oklahoma, 1990. Law enforcement ranger Valerie Boren-Odell arrives at newly minted Horsethief Trail National Park seeking a quiet place to balance a career and single parenthood. But no sooner has Valerie reported for duty than she’s faced with local controversy over the park’s opening, a teenage hiker gone missing from one of the trails, and the long-hidden burial site of three children unearthed in a cave. Val’s quest for the truth wins an ally among the neighboring Choctaw Tribal Police but soon collides with old secrets and the tragic and deadly history of the land itself.


In this emotional and enveloping novel, Lisa Wingate traces the story of children abandoned by the law and the battle to see justice done. Amid times of deep conflict over who owns the land and its riches, Ollie and Val traverse the rugged and beautiful terrain, each leaving behind one life in search of another.








My Review


From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours, Lisa Wingate brings to life her latest powerful and evocative historical fiction, SHELTERWOOD.


The novel is set in the backdrop of early-twentieth-century Oklahoma and inspired by the untold story of women pioneers who fought to protect children caught in the storm of land barons, hungry for power, oil, and wealth.


Themes...

The rights of women and children, family, and justice.


Inspired by...

SHELTERWOOD is inspired by female pioneers like Kate Barnard who fought to protect children's rights and welfare in a time when child labor was unregulated and exploited.


Elf children....

Kate discovered "elf children" living in a hollow tree in Oklahoma in 1909. The children were not elves, but land-wealthy orphans of the Five Tribes. Their court-appointed guardian was living lavishly on the children's oil monies, while the kids fled to the woods to survive.


Topics...

Race, identity, culture, gender, economic status, and discrimination. The conflict over land ownership, power, and wealth is a central theme in the book (which is timely and topical today).


Social issues...

Mistreatment of Indians, child labor, corruption, and poverty.


About...


SHELTERWOOD is told through two timelines and perspectives

— 1909: Olive Augusta Radley

—1990: Valerie Boren-Odell


PAST: 1909: Set in early-twentieth-century Oklahoma, we meet Olive Augusta Radley (11), aware her stepfather doesn't have good intentions toward the two Choctaw girls boarded in their home as wards.


When the older girl disappears, Ollie flees to the woods, taking six-year-old Nessa. Together, they begin a perilous journey to the rugged Winding Stair Mountains, the notorious territory of outlaws, treasure hunters, and desperate men. Along the way, Ollie and Nessa form an unlikely band with others like themselves, struggling to stay one step ahead of those who seek to exploit them.


PRESENT: Oklahoma, 1990. Law Enforcement Ranger Valerie Boren O'Dell arrives at Horsethief Trail National Park seeking a quiet place for her new home, a fresh start, as a single parent for her young son, Charlie.


She is only on the job for a few days when she is faced with controversy over the park trail’s opening, a missing teenager, and the discovery of a long-hidden burial site with the bones of three children. Val's quest to uncover the truth gains an ally among the neighboring Choctaw Tribal Police but soon collides with old secrets and the tragic and deadly history of the land itself.


Both Ollie and Valerie struggle for justice and change. The two powerful timelines converge for a remarkable and significant conclusion.


My Thoughts...


Meticulously researched, SHELTERWOOD is rich in time, place, and character. It is heartbreaking, spellbinding, atmospheric, emotional, and an unforgettable, gripping page-turner by a master storyteller.


Beautifully written, with two timelines and two heroines (Ollie and Val), both past and present, inspired by true events. You will root for Ranger Valerie as she uncovers the spine-chilling story of children displaced by land barons in this atmospheric setting.


I was unfamiliar with the historical events of Oklahoma and the Choctaw Nation prior to reading SHELTERWOOD, and I appreciate the author's research, attention to detail, and storytelling for bringing this to life.


She came across it in an old newspaper mentioning a woman who found "elf children living in a hollow tree" in Oklahoma. They had to beg for food and became malnourished and ragged, so people thought they were elves. Sadly, these children had no choice but to endure their young lives any way they could to survive to adulthood.


This propelled the author on a winding quest to discover the rest of the story, questioning: Who was this woman, Kate? Who were these children, and why were they living in a hollow tree? Why had she never heard of this?


Child labor...


Kate Barnard's deepest passion was evident in her pursuit of laws protecting children. She championed education and child labor laws in Oklahoma and pushed for nationwide regulation to prevent the use of children as low-budget labor in dangerous jobs.


SUPERB! Indeed, the author delivers a poignant voice to the past for the lost children of American history. It is a classic that belongs in everyone's home library and should be read by everyone including our youth.


Absorbing and provoking, SHELTERWOOD is an important tale and an essential piece of hidden history so eloquently brought to life! Highly recommend.


Recs...


For those who enjoyed her Before We Were Yours, fans of William Kent Krueger, Kimi Cunningham Grant, and Patti Callahan Henry, and those who enjoy American history, mysteries, literary fiction, historical fiction, and inspired stories untold and brought to life by one of the best storytellers out today, Lisa Wingate!


Be sure to check out her extensive and fascinating Book Club Kit for more resources and information. It is ideal for book clubs and further discussions.



Thanks to Random House and NetGalley for the honor of a gifted digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.


@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

My Rating: 5 Stars

Pub Date: June 4, 2024








Praise



“Wingate’s stellar latest explores a centuries-long legacy of missing child cases. . . . Wingate’s insightful depiction of her young characters’ vulnerability and resourcefulness enriches the intricate plotting, and her portrayal of the region’s history, culture, and landscape enthralls. Wingate is at the top of her game.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A seamlessly crafted tale of tragedy, resilience, and triumph, this powerful novel needs to go to the top of your list. Lisa Wingate once again gives poignant voice to the ‘lost’ children of American history.”

—Lisa Scottoline, author of Eternal and Loyalty


“Shelterwood is an instant American classic and a diamond in the crown of Lisa Wingate’s canon of atmospheric and emotional novels. The story of Ollie and Nessa is a page-turner.”

—Adriana Trigiani, author of The Good Left Undone


“A complex and fascinating tapestry woven with threads of history, mystery, and menace that proves yet again that there is no finer storyteller at work today than Lisa Wingate.”

—William Kent Krueger, author of The River We Remember


“I barely put Shelterwood down as my new favorite heroine, Ranger Valerie, uncovered the chilling story of children displaced by land barons. This book has it all—two fabulous heroines, a little-known true story, and a setting to die for.”

—Martha Hall Kelly, author of Lilac Girls and The Golden Doves


“Wingate’s best book yet! Shelterwood explores crucial societal issues against the nail-biting backdrop of early-twentieth-century Oklahoma, where the struggle for land and oil threatens lives. . . . A spellbinding and important tale.”

—Marie Benedict, author of The Mystery of Mrs. Christie and The Personal Librarian


“Riveting and powerful! Wingate brings to life the shocking tale of greed and little girls forced to save themselves. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. I doubt I will ever forget this story.”

—Vanessa Miller, author of The American Queen


“Wingate’s signature talent for deeply realized characters, awe-inspiring prose, and page-turning mystery has never been more manifest. This captivating story will absorb your mind and heart and won’t let go.”

—Patti Callahan Henry, author of The Secret Book of Flora Lea


“Lisa Wingate works her signature magic in creating strong, smart, and willful children who survive at any cost. Shelterwood is as heartwarming as it is mysterious and utterly absorbing.”

—Sadeqa Johnson, author of The House of Eve






About the Author



Lisa Wingate is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Before We Were Yours, which remained on the bestseller list for over two years and has sold over 3 million copies. She has penned over thirty novels and coauthored a nonfiction book, Before and After with Judy Christie. Her award-winning works have been selected for state and community One Book reads throughout the country, have been published in over forty languages, and have appeared on bestseller lists worldwide. The group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa and six others as recipients of the National Civics Award, which celebrates public figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American life. Booklist summed up her work by saying, “Lisa Wingate is, quite simply, a master storyteller.”


Lisa was inspired to become a writer by a first-grade teacher who said she expected to see Lisa’s name in a magazine one day. Lisa also entertained childhood dreams of being an Olympic gymnast and winning the National Finals Rodeo but was stalled by a mental block against backflips on the balance beam and by parents who stubbornly refused to finance a rodeo career. She was lucky enough to marry into a big family of Southern tall tale enthusiasts who never let the truth get in the way of a good story. Lisa writes her novels at home in Texas where she is part of the Wingate clan of storytellers.


Of all the things she treasures about being a writer, she enjoys connecting with people, both real and imaginary, the most. More information about her novels can be found at www.lisawingate.com.

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