The Next Chapter·Like This? Love That

If you liked Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver, you'll love Half Life by Krista Foss

The Next Chapter columnist Victor Dwyer finds a Canadian counterpart to the international novel for fans of books about big ideas and social change.
Victor Dwyer is an editor and The Next Chapter columnist. (Harper Perennial, CBC, McClelland & Stewart)

Unsheltered by American author Barbara Kingsolver is a novel that spans two centuries as it looks at two families of similar circumstances as they navigate the challenges of a world undergoing cultural change. In the book, the bonds of mothers and daughters are tested during times of social, political and environmental upheaval.

The Next Chapter columnist Victor Dwyer has read Unsheltered and says if you enjoyed that international novel, you should check out the Canadian novel Half Life by Krista Foss.

Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

Barbara Kingsolver is the author of the novel Unsheltered. (Annie Griffiths, HarperCollins Canada)

"Barbara Kingsolver actually founded something called the Pen/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction. It awards great literature about social change. She's committed to writing about social change. She's not a Pollyanna at all, but her books have a real optimism to them, even as they delve into all kinds of issues facing society. 

It looks at how society is constantly facing huge challenges.

"Unsheltered is no different. It looks at how society is constantly facing huge challenges. Unsheltered is two stories layered into one novel. They're stories that take place 150 years apart. They both take place in the small town of Vineland, New Jersey, and they both look at a lot of big ideas. 

"Kingsolver acknowledges Naomi Klein's book, This Changes Everything, and how much it influenced her and this novel. Klein's book is about the environment and the huge questions it's posing for the world at large.

Half Life by Krista Foss

Krista Foss is an Ontario writer, journalist and author. (McClelland & Stewart, Fehn Foss)

"Krista Foss is a short story writer and was twice nominated for the Journey Prize. Half Life is the story of a woman who has a daughter who loves her mother — but also has her generation's big, bold ideas of what it means to become a responsible adult. This is in light of a world run by baby boomers who've been committing political, cultural and environmental arson.

Half Life is the story of a woman who has a daughter who loves her mother — but also has her generation's big, bold ideas of what it means to become a responsible adult.

"Both Unsheltered and Half Life do dig deep into what it's like to be a mother these days, and into the relationships baby boomer-era mothers are trying to carve with their daughters."

Victor Dwyer's comments have been edited for length and clarity.

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