Set in the Pacific Northwest in the jittery, jacked-up early '90s, Shelter in Place is a stylish literary novel about the hereditary nature of mental illness, the fleeting intensity of youth, the obligations of family, and the consequences of all-consuming love.
Summer 1991. Joseph March, a 21-year-old working-class kid from Seattle, is on top of the world. He has just graduated college and his future beckons, unencumbered and magnificent. But Joe's life implodes when he starts to suffer the symptoms of severe bipolar disorder and, shortly after, his mother kills a man she's never met with a hammer.
Joe moves to White Pine, Oregon, where his mother is in jail and his father has set up house to be near her. He is joined by Tess Wolff, a fiercely independent woman with whom he has fallen passionately in love. The lives of Joe, Tess, and Joe's father fall into the slow rhythm of daily prison visits and beer and pizza at a local bar. Meanwhile, Anne-Marie March, Joe's mother, is gradually becoming a local heroine as many begin to see her crime as a furious, exasperated act of righteous rebellion. Tess too has fallen under her spell. Spurred on by Anne-Marie's example, Tess enlists Joe in a secret, violent plan that will forever change their lives.
With an eerie magnetism, a feel for the battered spirit of modern America comparable to that of the best contemporary fiction, and characters as relatable and memorable as Miles and Alaska in John Green's Looking for Alaska, Shelter in Place tells a story about the things in life we are willing to die for, and those for which we're willing to kill.