Book Review: Shelterwood by Lisa Wingate

Before posting the book review, I want to share a couple of inspirational items that a friend sent me.


“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” Martin Luther King Jr.

Oh, how true that is. The unknown can be so scary, but we never get past where we are, figuratively and literally, if we don’t move a foot forward.

Cheering you on!!

This second offering came with a headline:

Stop remembering what God forgot.

Then there was a short reflection:

Despite God’s forgiveness, we are prone to obsess about every bad or even questionable decision we have made in the past. We cannot change our past mistakes and there is little value in obsessing about them. Things done cannot be undone, and yet, we sometimes find it hard to let go of our guilt, allowing our past sins to become the major focus of our lives. They loom as an enemy difficult to conquer, becoming a great weight that occupies our deepest thoughts.

What a great lesson!

Letting go of anything negative in our past is sooooo hard, but also sooooo freeing when we are able to. That doesn’t just mean anything we might consider a sin, but also applies to a lot of other junk we carry around that weighs our spirits down.

If we’ve been wronged, we have a hard time forgiving the person who dared to do that to us, but peace of mind will never come until we can forgive and then let it go.

I know. Easier said than done. But when I finally did after a major “wrong.” it was a huge relief.

Try it. You might like it. 🙂

Now the Review

Lisa Wingate
Ballantine Books
June 2024 – 349 pgs
ISBN: 0593726502

Story 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.


This engaging story is told in alternating chapters from Ollie to Valerie, and the reader can recognize what these characters have in common, even separated by so many years. They are both determined to make their lives better, and I loved the resilience and cleverness of Ollie as she strove to make a community with the other children that joined her in “Shelterwood.”

Valerie had to use the same kind of grit and determination to prove herself in a male-dominated workforce and solve the mystery of the bones found in the cave as well as the mysterious “accident” one of the rangers had on the mountain. She also had challenges as a single mother, and I loved her little boy, Charlie. What a fun character.

It was a pleasure to read about a female National Park Ranger, as I’d always harbored a secret desire to work in that field, probably because I love the outdoors and like to do good. I also liked the subplot of a relationship with the Tribal Policeman, Curtis, that starts as a friendship based on mutual respect. Then an attraction becomes evident, and they let develop at it’s own pace without any physical intimacy. That fit the story perfectly, keeping more of the focus on the work they were doing.

The book is well researched, and the author note at the end, as well as the extensive bibliography, are a boon for folks who might want to delve deeper into a subject that is rarely taught in history books. Kudos to the author for bringing to light this horrible slice of Oklahoma history, even though some of the information in the narrative tended to slow the story a bit in the middle. There is some repeat of facts and information in the body of the story that could’ve been cut.

Still, I enjoyed the story a great deal and highly recommend it to readers of all ages from middle school up.

I thank the publisher and NetGalley for providing an ARC prior to publication.

Shelterwood BUY LINK

That’s all from me for today folks. I hope your week ahead is productive and fun. Be safe. Be happy. And if you live where it is boiling hot, stay cool as best you can.

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