Shelter By Christie Matheson By Christie Matheson

A heavy and heart wrenching but important read. Shelter By Christie Matheson It's a rainy, wintry day in San Francisco, and Maya, almost 11, wakes up at 6:32 in the morning to start her long trek to the private school she attends on scholarship. She needs to catch a couple of different buses and walk part of the way, and the journey is emotionally trying because she passes by the cottage her family once called home. Now, though, home is a homeless shelter where she lives with her mother and little sister Gabby while her father lies in a hospital. Maya is hungry because she skipped breakfast so that Gabby would have something to eat, and she's cold because she has no raincoat or umbrella. The author tells Maya's story with empathy and detail, breaking it up into ticks of the clock that mark the moments of her day, from that first awakening all the way to when she closes her eyes at 7:35 and counts her blessings. There are passages that are heartbreaking such as how she has everything she values in her backpack and how Sloane, the class bully, keeps homeroom from being the safe space it's supposed to be. Readers are able to see into Maya's heart and mind as she worries that she'll lose her valued friendship with Abby because she's ashamed to tell her where she's living. The grinding hunger that assaults her as she goes about her day, diminishing her ability to concentrate in math class, is described vividly, as is her panic when her backpack disappears. But Maya is lucky to have friends like Abby and Ms. Sherman, her art teacher, who make sure justice is done. Perhaps Maya is too good to be true since she still plans to buy food to donate to the food pantry and gives away her chocolate candy to another homeless boy, but these actions say a lot about her character. And while it is probably unlikely that so many good things can happen in one day, the book effectively portrays homelessness through the eyes of a child as well as how quickly a family's living situation can become precarious through gentrification and an accident affecting the primary wage owner. Books such as this one are important for young readers to read because they put a face to the issue of homelessness and show its complexity without pointing a finger of blame. And of course, one of the basic needs humans have is for shelter or a safe place to weather life's storms. Shelter By Christie Matheson I really wanted to like this book. I love Matheson's picture books and a chapter book about poverty that deals with medical expenses, the housing crisis, and has a loving, otherwise stable family? Cool! Unfortunately, it read like a book someone wrote because they wanted to write a Message Book about Poverty. It got better, but the beginning was painful. Each article of clothing she put on had to be described as stained, frayed, or ill-fitting-- as though Matheson had to hit her readers over the head again and again to drive home the point that SHE'S REALLY POOR, GUYS! A subtler touch would have made it much more powerful. Shelter By Christie Matheson *3.5

Shelter is a story about a girl Maya, who's family has lost their home, and after a tragic accident, are unable to move into a new one, and instead have to rely on a homeless shelter for refuge. The story takes place over one day as Maya discovers what it means to be homeless, how important family and friends are, and even more. It's a short but sweet story perfect for younger readers.

I mention this because I had a hard time getting into it at first purely because the writing style is so young. The sentence structure, especially in the beginning seemed very choppy to me, and everything was so over-explained. However, if a much younger reader were reading this, it would probably be helpful to them. For me, it made it just a little difficult to engage with the story at first. Which, because it was so short, was unfortunate, because just as I was really getting into it, the book was over. Even so, I don't think it needed to be longer. It did what it needed to do within 178 pages, and it said what it needed to say. I think I just wasn't the targeted age range for this, and that's fine.

Still, I did enjoy it. I thought it was interesting reading about homelessness through the eyes of a child. Usually when you think of homeless people, you think of adults and elders on the streets, but there are actually *so* many homeless children, and this book brings that to light, which I definitely appreciated.

Maya is still hopeful about her situation without it being too unrealistic. She has moments of bitterness when her classmates flaunt how many clothes they have, and all of their trendy bags, or when they talk about their huge houses. This was completely realistic, though, because of course it would seem completely unfair to her that they have all of these things and don't appreciate it when everything she has comes from one backpack. Because it isn't fair. I admired Maya's ability to stay positive, such as when she mentions how she'd rather stay homeless and have a family that loves and appreciates her, than live in a huge house with all the stuff in the world but a family who doesn't care about her. It shows how much we take for granted in our daily lives.

I appreciate what this book set out to do, and I think it definitely hit the mark. While it didn't always click with me, I still appreciated it, and in the end, I enjoyed my time with Shelter and am glad I read it.

Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher, and TBR and Beyond Tours for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion. Shelter By Christie Matheson This book was quick but enlightening. I cannot wait to add it to my library for kids who need to see this character for all the reasons. Shelter By Christie Matheson


Shelter é o comovente relato de um dia na vida de Maya, uma menina de dez anos. A tragédia atingiu a sua família e passaram a ter que viver num abrigo.
Acompanhamos a menina num dia de aulas, as suas provações e pequenas vitórias, os seus desejos e maiores medos.
Christie Matheson fez-me pôr em perspectiva muitos aspectos da minha vida, chamando a atenção para necessidades que temos como garantidas, como por exemplo, ter roupa quente para nos proteger num dia de inverno e comida.
Esta foi uma leitura interessante e comovente, pautada por rasgos de esperança.

Novembro 2022 Shelter By Christie Matheson Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Shelter

Author: Christie Matheson

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 4.5/5

Diversity: Food allergies side character, Cerebral palsey death mute side character mentioned, Yemen side character mentioned, Gender neutral side character

Recommended For...: middle grade books, contemporary, homelessness

Publication Date: October 12, 2021

Genre: MG Contemporary

Recommended Age: 10+ (Shelter, Homelessness, Father in hospital, Bullying, Microaggressions, Food insecurity)

Explanation of CWs: Maya lives in a shelter and some of the book deals with education of shelters and showing what they look like. Maya also deals with homelessness and food insecurity, which are brought up often in the book. Maya’s father is in the hospital due to a hit and run accident. There is bullying shown throughout the book. There are some microaggressions shown and mentioned.

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers

Pages: 192

Synopsis: Fifth grade can be tough for anyone. There are cliques and mean kids and homework and surprise math tests. But after tragedy strikes her family, almost-eleven-year-old Maya has a painful secret that makes many days feel nearly impossible.

And today might be Maya's toughest yet. Her family is on edge, she needs to travel alone across the city, a bully is out to get her, and Maya has to face this winter's biggest rainstorm without a coat or an umbrella.

But even on the rainiest days, there's hope that the sun will come out soon.

Emotional and compassionate, Shelter looks at homelessness through one girl's eyes and explores the power of empathy, friendship, and love.

Review: I absolutely fell in love with this book so much that I finished it in a one hour reading session. The book takes course during one day in the life of Maya, who has to face homelessness, food insecurity, bullying, and the rain. I loved how the book had notes on homelessness, shelters, and poverty in the front of the book to help educate readers on the very serious issue. I also loved all of the diversity in the book and I loved the commentary on how hungry kids can’t perform as well as fed kids in the book, because that’s a point that a lot of people seem to miss about food insecurity. The character development was well done and the world building was fairly good. I also liked the plot and it kept me hooked throughout the book.

The only issue I really had with the book is that the book paints the bully to be just jealous of Maya. While that might be true, that really downplays a lot of the harm she did to multiple people, including insinuating that a character’s mother would miscarry another child. I do feel that most young bullies have unresolved issues that they perpetuate onto others and use that to bully them for it, but it really downplays the harm that it causes children when you’re told “oh they’re just jealous of you” because, as someone who was told that multiple times before about bullies, it makes the victims feel like they should be more compassionate to the bully when the bully needs to have therapy and come to the conclusion themselves about their issues,

Verdict: It was good!
Shelter By Christie Matheson Shelter is the story of Maya, a ten-year-old girl living in San Francisco. After her father has an accident, Maya and her family lose their home and end up living in a homeless shelter. Meanwhile, she is on a scholarship at an independent school and commutes back and forth, switching between the two worlds. The book follows Maya over one day. In addition to struggling with her home life and living in the homeless shelter, she also has to deal with conflicts outside, such as school politics, homework, tests, and a mean girl.

I love how we get an intimate view of Maya's daily experience. I felt her moments of pain and everything she was going through—the highs and the lows. We get to see those small moments of human connection that Maya makes throughout her day. This book looks at homelessness through a girl's eyes and shows us the depths of struggles many families face. It also explores the power of empathy, friendship, and love.

To listen to my interview with the author, go to my podcast at:
Shelter By Christie Matheson

“Shelter” is a rare middle-grade novel that had me in tears because of the instances that happened to Maya, the main character.

Firstly, kudos to the author for talking about a topic that we don’t read much in middle-grade stories, mainly homeless. What happens when your life turns upside down and you have to move out of your house? The author portrayed the characters and events realistically where you immediately want to get into the pages to protect them.

Maya is a strong character, and I immediately adored her from the first page. She does her best to stay hopeful, irrespective of the challenging situations that she encounters. She uplifts her mom and Gabby and prays for her father. I also loved her friendship with Abby. While Abby also has her faults, I liked how she comes through for Maya when needed. Moreover, Maya also has to deal with school drama and bullies like Sloane and Madison (who I detested for their horrid behavior).

However, there are also more reasons to love this story. The author references other childhood classics that Maya leans towards, like “Anne of Green Gable” and “Ramona,” which I cherished. Similarly, the author also writes the story in the form of timeline logs which I thought was unique.

Some moving moments were when she passed through her old neighborhood and reminiscence of her old life or the incident with the backpack that broke my heart. You would need to have a box of tissues next to you when reading this book, as it will make you appreciate life and move you.

Overall, “Shelter” is a beautiful middle-grade novel that I think everyone should read to be more empathetic towards others. Shelter By Christie Matheson The writing is good. I like the main character. I understand what the author is trying to represent. Somehow I feel like I am already familiar with the story. Shelter By Christie Matheson

The middle grade debut, which considers homelessness, family, and evergreen fifth-grade struggles through one child’s lens, chronicles one poignant day in the life of 10-year-old Maya, and follows her journey in discovering that having a house isn't the only way to have a home. Shelter By Christie Matheson

FREE DOWNLOAD Shelter By Christie Matheson