Forms of Shelter

Rarely has an author confronted more honestly one of the deepest betrayals of the notion of family…. A deeply moving piece of literature.

-Los Angeles Times

In this beautifully written novel, Angela Davis-Gardner weaves a haunting tale of divided loyalties and family secrets. As Beryl Fonteyn recounts her upbringing, the disappearance of her father and the relationships with her mother, brother Stevie, and step father Jack, her narrative slowly and surely circles closer and closer to the betrayal at its center.

Perched in her tree house among the leaves of the Osage orange in Jack’s back yard, Beryl observes the life around her—Mama’s desperate attempts to keep Jack’s attention by writing her novel, Stevie’s retreat into religion as he acts out events from the Bible, and Jack’s obsession with his bees—all the while wishing she could bring Daddy back from Chicago, where he has run off to play in a jazz band. As her father’s return looks less and less likely and her mother’s alienation and unhappiness grow, Beryl finds herself more and more drawn into the dangerous psychological web that Jack creates.

Forms of Shelter brilliantly explores the ways in which a family both acts out and denies the pain at its core. As frank as it is beautiful and shattering, Angela Davis-Gardner’s new novel confirms her place among the storytellers of our time.
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Reviews and Quotes

  • Detroit Free Press
    "A searing and sensitive portrait of a family in pain and a child torn."
  • New York Times
    "The reader gains full confidence in characterizations that are both complex and humane…. This novel confirms the praise given Ms. Davis-Gardner's first novel."
  • Boston Globe
    "The story unwinds with a deceptive ease that pulls the reader into its clutches, then refuses to let go Davis-Gardner's seductive poetics lure us on. Lush detail and vivid characterizations, of what at first seem to be ordinary people with ordinary problems, are captivating for their artistry alone…"
  • Charlotte Observer
    "Forms of Shelter… is a haunting, finely crafted and heartbreaking story…. In this, her second novel, Davis-Gardner's theme is the family as crucible. It is a much-explored subject, of course—yet in her skillful hands, the human drama takes on a new freshness."

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