Review: Shelter Me by Juliette Fay

After the sudden death of her husband, Janie LaMarche is swamped by tides of grief and rage. Yet she’s forced to confront the onward march of her life by an unlikely cast of interventionists: her two small children, her Ipecac-toting aunt, the “unflinchingly nice” parish priest, and the contractor hired by her husband to build her a porch, whose involvement in her family’s life becomes more ingrained with every beam he installs. Shelter Me reminds us that the terrain of one’s future is best navigated iwth the help of others – even the ones we least expect to call on, much less learn to love.
I was fortunate to get an ARC of this book from Harper Collins. I was very interested in this book because I think it hit at one of my biggest fears. As a mother and wife, I can’t imagine losing my husband. Janie’s emotions in the story were so raw and yet so believable. I felt her pain and have often shared the same thoughts when I dare to think about “What if?” The story deals with family relationships, friendships, motherhood, anger, grief, forgiveness, fear, and love. Really anyone could relate to some portion of this book.
I loved the way the author brought in the letter writing at the homeless shelter. “Beryl” one of the homeless says to Janie “A typed letter is so cold and impersonal. It can be sent to so many people at once! Only a handwritten letter can convey the sense that the writer is actually with you, saying the words to you alone. When you write a letter with your own hand, you give a tiny piece of yourself” This was a great reminder for me and after just reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and how that was also completely letters written back and forth, I am even more driven to write more to those I love.
I loved Janie’s journal writings as they allowed the reader to see that real raw emotions Janie was having over the death of her husband and whatever else may be bothering her that day. I just think it made her more believable and identifiable. I liked that she too, made mistakes with her kids. No one is perfect and it’s ok, if you feed Rice Krispies to your kids for supper once in a while!
There were so many other parts of the story that I reflected on, cried, and laughed about. Even though the book is over 400 pages, I quickly became wrapped up in the story and hated to put it down. I believe Ms. Fay has a winner of a novel and would gladly give it 5 out of 5 stars.
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