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Shelterwood by Lisa Wingate

Historical fiction

Shelterwood

by Lisa Wingate

Excellent choice

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Quick take

An epic excavation of the forgotten history of women pioneers who shielded children from land baron greed and violence.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Multiple_Viewpoints

    Multiple viewpoints

  • Illustrated icon, Social_Issues

    Social issues

  • Illustrated icon, Nonlinear_Timeline

    Nonlinear timeline

  • Illustrated icon, Rugged

    Rugged

Synopsis

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.

Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of Shelterwood.

Shelterwood

PROLOGUE

Oklahoma, 1990

Possibly the old man made up the stories he told as he sat on the bench outside the Dairy Queen in Ada, Oklahoma. He’d spin whoppers while carving twigs with his pocketknife, a bone-­handle Barlow with the blade almost worn through. Whittle and talk, and so people called him Whittles.

Sergeant, the state-­champion football boys added in 1962, shortly after the old man first appeared in town. Sergeant Whittles, a joke about the worn-­out tanker jacket with army patches on the sleeves. But Whittles could weave a tale that would make a kid’s hair stand on end, and so the name became a moniker of genuine respect. As Whittles told it, he’d been a miner, a treasure hunter, a Wild West show performer, a horse thief, and too smart for his own good before he joined the army in 1914 to avoid prison time. He’d served in World War I, World War II, and Korea.

He understood the folly of youth, the allure of it, and the potential consequences of its naïve recklessness. He’d felt the odd thrill of cheating death, tempted it, and walked away from it more than once. He spoke of it in ways that indelibly marked his young listeners, some of whom remembered those oversized tales for years after they’d left Whittles, and hanging out at the Dairy Queen, behind.

For that reason, when two former MVPs of the 1962 state championship football team found themselves driving through the Winding Stair Mountains, almost three decades older and three hours west of Ada at the slow pace of a delivery van, the topic of Sergeant Whittles came up.

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Why I love it

There is nothing quite as wonderful as historical fiction that transports me to another land and another time populated with lost-to-time stories and fascinating characters—which means there is nothing quite as wonderful as a new Lisa Wingate novel.

The year is 1909 in a land where the forests are deep, and the rugged mountains hide secrets, danger, and outlaws. We meet eleven-year-old Ollie and a six-year-old Choctaw girl named Nessa as together they flee an abusive man. They have nowhere to hide and must escape into the wild woodlands to make their way to the remote Winding Stair Mountains. Unsure if they are headed into worse danger than they are escaping, we readers hold our breath and madly turn the pages to discover their fate.

Eighty-one years later, in 1990, a ranger named Valerie, along with her young and precocious son, arrives at the newly formed Horsethief Trail National Park. They too are running from wounds and tragedy. And when Valerie arrives in Oklahoma, she immediately faces an unholy trio of problems: opposition to the new trail and park, the mystery of a missing teenage hiker, and the news of an unearthed burial ground inside a cave with the remains of three children.

These two fascinating storylines braid together to give us the gift of Shelterwood—a novel rich with suspense, mystery, and deep emotion. Lisa Wingate’s singular ability to bring us into the world of America’s lost children shines in Shelterwood.

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Historical fiction
View all
Lady Tan’s Circle of Women
The Women
The Lion Women of Tehran
Shelterwood
All We Were Promised
Spitting Gold
The Mayor of Maxwell Street
The Great Divide
The Storm We Made
The Disappearance of Astrid Bricard
Lessons in Chemistry
The Frozen River
What We Kept to Ourselves
The River We Remember
Take My Hand
The Last Russian Doll
The First Ladies
The House Is On Fire
River Sing Me Home
The People We Keep
The Attic Child
Malibu Rising
The Book of Longings
Hester
The Final Revival of Opal & Nev
The Nightingale
Daisy Jones & The Six
The Lincoln Highway
The Secret Book of Flora Lea
Did You Hear About Kitty Karr?
The Circus Train
Peach Blossom Spring
Hang the Moon
Booth
The Good Left Undone
Sisters in Arms
The Perishing
The Postmistress of Paris
The Family
Things We Lost to the Water
The Spectacular
Still Life
Send for Me
The Magnolia Palace
The Bookbinder
China Room
This Tender Land
Atomic Love
All the Light We Cannot See
The Vanishing Half
Outlawed
The Four Winds
Independence
The Fountains of Silence
Libertie
Queen of Thieves
The Great Believers
The Clockmaker's Daughter
A Gentleman in Moscow
The Great Alone
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
The Paris Hours
The Heart's Invisible Furies
Rules of Civility
Circling the Sun
The Moor's Account
Jacqueline in Paris
Don't Cry for Me
The Christie Affair
Bloomsbury Girls
The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle
Bronze Drum