The Shelter Cycle tells the story of two children, Francine and Colville, who grew up in the Church Universal and Triumphant, a religion that predicted the world could end in the late 1980s. While their parents built underground shelters to withstand the impending Soviet missile strike, Francine and Colville played in the Montana wilderness, where invisible spirits watched over them. When the prophesized apocalypse did not occur, the sect's members resurfaced and the children were forced to grow up in a world they believed might no longer exist.
Twenty years later, Francine and Colville are reunited while searching for an abducted girl. Haunted by memories and inculcated beliefs, they must confront the Church's teachings. If all the things they were raised to believe were misguided, why then do they suddenly feel so true?
When I was out by myself in the mountains, I liked to think he was somewhere in the trees. I hiked up the canyons, over the ridge and under the pines and aspens to a place where an old cabin had been. It was only a stone chimney and foundation, all broken down. I tore out long grass for a bed, then stepped through the doorway, a gap in the stones with no walls on either side.
I could hear dogs barking, far away, when I closed my eyes. I heard the stream nearby, the wind in the leaves above. And I heard my name. Francine, Francine.
He stood in the doorway. Wearing his dark blue Cub Scout shirt, the patches on his pocket and his jeans with holes in the knees. Colville Young. He pretended to knock on the door, then stepped inside and stretched out next to me on the bed of grass. We were ten years old, eleven. He was shorter, and his arms were too long for his body, and his hair was almost white, even lighter than mine.
High above, the aspens' leaves slapped, the blue sky bright ...
One of the most interesting questions the novel poses is this: of the things that we say, which do we believe? And which do we simply believe we believe? Rock makes clear that there is a difference with the juxtaposition of Francine's voice vs. Colville's: the indoctrinated vs. the true believer.
(Reviewed by Morgan Macgregor).
Full Review (1065 words).
The inspiration for The Shelter Cycle came from the author, Peter Rock's experiences with the Church Universal and Triumphant, a religious sect he came into contact with while working on a sheep and cattle ranch near Yellowstone Park in the early 1990s.
The Church Universal and Triumphant is a religious organization founded in 1975 by Elizabeth Clare Prophet. Its beliefs are based on the wisdom of the "ascended masters," a group of enlightened human beings - "joint heirs with the Christ" - who had once been human, and who now distill wisdom through Elizabeth Clare Prophet. The church was founded to further the goals of The Summit Lighthouse, which was founded in 1958 by Mark L. Prophet (husband of Elizabeth Clare Prophet).
If you liked The Shelter Cycle, try these:
Amity & Sorrow is a story about God, sex, and farming. It's an unforgettable journey into the horrors a true believer can inflict upon his family, and what it is like to live when the end of the world doesn't come.
Told from Frank's perspective forty years after that fateful summer, Ordinary Grace is a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him.
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