Friday, May 6, 2011

Shelter by Sarah Stonich (Review)

Publication Date  March 1st 2011 (Borealis Books)
Where to get:Book Depository, B&N, Amazon,
Sarah Stonich
Shelter - Goodreads
My review copy:Received from the author (Thank you!)

          Sarah Stonich’s family had once owned land—an island in Lake Vermilion that was lost after the Depression—and while her father still managed to give his daughters the quintessential Minnesota cabin experience, it was on a patch of leased land.
     Long after her father passed away, a newly divorced Stonich fi nds herself yearning for a piece of land to call her own, that perfect spot on a lake, tall pines, a sense of permanence, a legacy for her son, and a connection to her paternal heritage.

     “Perfect” turns out to be roadless, raw wilderness near where her immigrant grandparents settled a century before and where the family name is now a postscript. Stonich recalls stories of her relatives, meets admirable and remarkable characters in the community, considers another go at love, and, finally, builds a small cabin. But when “progress” threatens to slice her precious patch of land in half, she must come to terms with the fact that a family legacy is no less valuable with or without a piece of earth.

      "Here, most of the drama is external. The glaciers that raked and caved the land made it both beautiful and difficult. Life is harder here, and the hardship is often credited as building character. Maybe it bulks up a certain tenacity, but it sometimes seems life here can constrict character - the isolation, the months of workdays begun and ended in darkness, with no time for leisurely chat outdoors because your nose hairs are iced, your face is numb, and your dog will freeze to the sidewalk if you don't keep pace."
      "While I was filling in the blank for age limit of potential dates, Sam looked over my shoulder, asking, "What is desirable about fifty-five?"
      Note to single mothers: Never ask your teenage son for help with dating profile. Do not allow him in the same room, and definitely do not ask which photo makes you look datable.

      Sarah Stonich is a magical writer. She paints with words. Through her wonderfully descriptive passages, one can almost taste the sweetness of late autumn afternoons in the woods of far Northern Minnesota, hear the chirping of birds and the rustling of leaves, feel the unbelievable coldness of Minnesota's Winter. Her latest novel, Shelter, is a memoir of a journey into the wilderness, inspired by the longing to find her very own piece of perfect land, a shelter, that would become her remote writing retreat.

     Shelter is a true story of one amazingly brave woman, who one day finds herself longing for change. In Sarah's case, change means buying a distant and raw piece of land, isolated for most of the year. The forty-some-acre parcel comes with no amenities, no power, no road.. no anything! And yet in Sarah's eyes this is the most beautiful place in the world and deep inside she knows, this is the place she was looking for all along.

     Nothing comes easily in a place like that and so Sarah has to build everything from the ground up, working very hard every step along the way, facing hardships and overcoming many obstacles. She shares her good and bad experiences, her hopes and fears. She also talks about the land and it's ancestors, her neighbors, friends, relatives and closest family members. She shares interesting anecdotes about local  people and animals, and even opens up about very personal matters, like her dating stories or how her grandparents met and fell in love, and how they came to settle down in the exact same area a century before herself. What she really does here, though, is share a piece of her soul and dreams, and that's exactly why reading this book feels so special.

     This book is like a magical chest filled with captivating, humorous stories, interesting facts and anecdotes. It's 200 pages of pure wonderful, written with beautiful, evocative language. It's the kind of book you'd read when you're feeling home-sick or you find yourself in need of something that will comfort you and fill you up with positive energy and strength. It's no doubt an amazing treat for anyone who likes outdoors, camping, hiking, breathing in the fresh, clean air and enjoying remote, untouched locations. Whether you're a land owner yourself or not, whether you spend your free days exploring wilderness or prefer to stay at home and read books, wrapped tightly in a blanket - this book is something you ought to have on your bookshelf. It's an inspiring and eye-opening read, very vibrant and nostalgic. I loved every bit of it and would definitely recommend it to everyone!



Bonnie said...

This sounds like an absolutely breathtaking read! Excellent review, I am very excited for this one now.

BookBagLady said...

Sounds wonderful! I like where you said she is a "magical writer" and "paints with words". I'm putting on my list for my next chapters order.
Did you read my two new reviews at my bookblog?
"Rain Valley" and "The Kitchen Daughter", you might really like both of them. Check 'em out at:


Amelia said...

Great review! You totally made me want to read this book, I'm hopping over to Amazon to order it, thanks! :)

Unknown said...

Great review. I like an author who "paints" the picture with their words. Thanks.

Rebecca said...

Awesome review! Thanks for sharing. I love memoirs so I will definitely have to check this one out. You mentioned this is a comforting type of reads like that :)

ArtemisG said...

Great review! It seems very interesting book.

Unknown said...

A awesome review! It sounds so interesting... I definetly want to read this one now! :D

Anonymous said...

good review. Like the story line.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a wonderful read! You always pick interesting books and write worthwhile reviews. I spent a few years living on a couple acres in the woods, and frankly, I yearn for that solitude and connection to nature at this stage in my life. best, Rae

Nikita said...

First time I heard about his book but it sounds really awesome and I really like that cover. That small cottage and small branch and green color. I like green. :D Really good review.

Amy (ArtsyBookishGal) said...

I haven't heard of this book before, but I love true stories and you recommend it so highly. Will put on that ever-expanding TBR list.

Amy // amyismyfriend

Asenath said...

This seems like a more modern version of Hattie Big Sky. Not exactly my cup of tea, but I might give it a try sometime.

aurora M. said...

Glad I found yet another book from your review that I would be happy to recommend to others. Thanks.

Krystal Larson said...

Sarah sounds like a character I would enjoy reading about :) She sounds like the great tough female character.

Denise Z said...

This sounds like an incredible book. There were times when I wished I had asked more from my grandparents and greats when I was young and thoughtless and too soon it became too late. Thank you for sharing today.

Munnaza said...

I'm not really a fan of memoirs (though I'll confess that this book sounds interesting and beautiful), but one of my friends absolutely adores them, and I'll definitely be recommending this book to her (or even buying it for her birthday). Great review and thank you for the recommendation!

Enbrethiliel said...


This would have been great as fiction. I'm even more excited that it's a memoir! I think everyone has interesting stories to tell about their lives, but only very few of us are also good enough at writing to put those stories into a readable book. (I remember being particularly disappointed by the memoir of the former lead guitarist of one of my favourite 80s bands. He had lived through events that I already found fascinating, and yet I was bored reading him retell them. Sigh!) Which is my long-winded way of saying that when I find someone who seems both out of the ordinary and has a great "voice," then I definitely remember his or her name! Thanks for another cool recommendation, Evie!

Fenny Wong said...

I cannot agree more with the comment above me. "I think everyone has interesting stories to tell about their lives, but only very few of us are also good enough at writing to put those stories into a readable book." That pretty much sums everything up. Nice review, as always.

Jaime Lester said...

I like the message that this seems to have in it. I 100% understand wanting a slice of land, somewhere away from the hustle and bustle. My husband and I live out in the country, and I can't begin to know the sadness I would feel if people tried to build up this area. But regardless, I have my wonderful husband and our little family. That is what means everything to me.

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