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Posted August 15, 2013
Posted May 6, 2011
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!
Posted May 4, 2011
Perhaps, as Thomas Wolfe said, you can't go home again, but for anyone who's ever felt the pull of their childhood surroundings and experiences, Shelter resonates. Sarah Stonich deftly blends facts, poignancy, and humor into this memoir as she responds to the pull of land and a cabin of her own.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 4, 2011
In an area where "the iron content in the rocks is so high that compasses fail," Sarah Stonich spent ten long years building a cabin "smaller than Thoreau's." Just what was it that pulled her to the land in frigid Minnesota? What motivated her to keep going, to fight bureaucrats about a potential highway abutting her land, to spend days at "home" without water, indoor plumbing, or electricity to run "the holy grail of all appliances: a refrigerator." Reading her memoir, Shelter, one gets the sense that by living so closely connected to the land, and so far from what we call "civilization," a different set of values exists. It's a place where a stranger will extinguish a fire on someone else's property or share abundant well water with those who live "dry." I found the stories about her ancestors poignant and enjoyed learning about her neighbors and her new found love. Many of her sentences mesmerized me, enough to draw me back for a second reading. A passage in which she writes about her first alfresco meal at a newly built picnic table overlooking the lake plays beautifully on the page. Don't ask what you do with your recently-deceased cat when the ground is too frozen to bury him. Or what happens when you run headlong into a cougar. But Sarah Stonich can write about sticks and stones (or cats) and I'd read it. Infused with both humor and deep-felt emotion, her memoir is an engaging read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 1, 2011
Sarah's journey through the imagining, purchase and building of a small cabin in the northwoods is spiked with vivid detail and considerable wit. This book will entertain you as it deftly makes bigger points about our longing for the idea home that in the landscape of the mind.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 27, 2011
I loved the fluid, conversational structure of this book: none of that post-modern-creative-nonfiction-let's-chop-it-all-up-into-small-chapters for Stonich, She deftly writes the history of the land and people near Tower and Ely, Minnesota, while weaving in her own history, particularly her longing for her father and how it brought her back to the wilderness she had known as a child. This is a story of a mother who is not afraid of hard work looking for peace in a piece of the northern boreal forest. It is a story of a romance, a few small cabins, innumerable rocks, and one beloved son. The tone of the book is relaxed and humorous, honest and captivating; Stonich is never snobby or self righteous in her back-to-the-land aspirations. This is a fun, calming, and easy memoir to read. Like sitting down with a good friend who has a good story to tell, you'll want a cup of tea to go along with this fabulous book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 3, 2011
If you are from the region and even if you don't enjoy the "great outdoors" this book can resonate with the reader. Having been to the Boundary Waters Canoe area, her description in Chapter 7 captured my feelings exactly! I can appreciate the beauty but the rest I can do without.
The book was enjoyable.