Book Title:
Book Author:
Janel Kolby
Page Count:
Publishing Date:
February 6th, 2018
Date Read:
February 3rd, 2018
eARC from publisher via Edelweiss - Thank you!


Rain is a homeless teen living with her father in the woods outside Seattle, near a community of other homeless people called the Winterfolk. She finds safety and sanctuary in this hidden world—until the day that safety is shattered when she learns the city plans to clear the woods of everyone who lives there. Now she’s forced to confront Seattle, which is full of strange sights, sounds, people—and memories...

My Review

I don’t know why I put off writing my review for this book for such a long time.  Winterfolk was a lot different from other books that I’ve read, and to be honest, it’s probably the very first book that I’ve read with a homeless character as the main character of the book.  This really made it an interesting read, because so much was going on and we really got to understand the modern world from the point of view of a young girl who doesn’t have access to the things we do – doing laundry at home, plenty of food to eat, and an understanding of certain people, places, and things.

“The problem with being a ghost – is that no one can see you.”

Rain lives in the woods with her father outside of Seattle, where she is part of a small group of other homeless people who call themselves the Winterfolk.  This group lives in tents, scavenges for food the best they can, and treats each other like family.  The problem is?  No one seems to care about or even see the Winterfolk – they are pretty much ignored, and while that has been a benefit to Rain most of her life, she is about to embark on a small journey that proves that maybe she can be seen, after all.

“I take his lead and look around.  Sure looks like a world I used to know – with streets, and cars, and shops, and everything.  Still here after all this time.  Not a ghost town.  Every color represented.  Not just blue, brown, and green.  A different world.  With real people.  All that separated us was a wall.”

When she goes into the city with her best friend, where they decide to do their laundry and he has a surprise to give her (a real, honest shower – something she never would get otherwise), he goes missing and causes Rain to explore the city on her own, looking for him, meeting new people, and coming across things that she has never seen or heard of before.

During her journey, she makes new friends, and discovers that people aren’t always who they say they are – sometimes for the good, and sometimes for the bad.  As she tries to make her way back to the Winterfolk, where she needs to get ready to pack up and find a new place to stay, since they are going to demolish the woods they are currently living in, she comes across many obstacles that she wasn’t expecting, and learns more about herself than she has ever known.

“Strange how some memories stick to you, while others are hard to find.  Some, you  hold – try to feel their edges and figure out their shapes – sort out if it’s yours or someone else’s.”

What I loved most about Winterfolk was definitely how we got to experience the world through Rain’s eyes, as she navigates a world that she can’t remember much about, or has no real ties to.  It’s so different to read a book from a point of view of a homeless girl, as most of the time when we read contemporary novels the narrators tend to be well off or have a home.  This was different, and it was really eye-opening.

While I liked the idea of the book being told from Rain’s point of view and how different things were than what we were used to, I have to say that I wasn’t really able to connect to a single character in this book, and I think they all felt a bit flat.  I didn’t feel that any of them really had any kind of defining personality or traits that made them special; I would have loved to learn more about other characters in the book and feel more meaningful interactions between characters, as well.

It really was both sad and enlightening to look at the world from Rain’s point of view, and while it’s heartbreaking that there are teens that go through these types of things on a daily basis, it’s also the kind of book that can really cause someone to want to try and change things.  It’s the kind of novel that’s touching and really wants to drive you and inspire you to do something to help change the world – even if it’s volunteering in a soup kitchen or homeless shelter.

3 stars
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8 Responses to Winterfolk by Janel Kolby

  1. That’s disappointing that you weren’t able to connect with the characters. Otherwise it sounds like a very interesting story. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with a homeless main character either.

    • Kelly says:

      It is an interesting story and I would definitely recommend it, especially if you haven’t read a story that has a homeless main character before. It’s really different than a lot of other books I’ve read.

  2. This sounds like a really interesting concept. I’m sorry the character didn’t quite live up to it, though. Great review!
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  3. Raven says:

    Great review! It’s a bummer that you weren’t able to connect with the characters. I’ve heard of this book but the blurb didn’t captivate my interest and the cover was a bit off putting.
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    • Kelly says:

      The blurb doesn’t really do the book justice to be honest – the story is much better than the blurb makes it sound! I only wish the characters had been, too.

  4. When I read the description of this book, I immediately thought of Nickelsville homeless camp in Seattle. I wonder if Winterfolk was based off it a bit? I don’t know too much about the camp other than they have to move it every so often.
    Winterfolk seems like a timely novel. I do like how it’s from the view of a child. I think people need to realize that a lot of homeless people are families. It’s such a sad situation. 🙁
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    • Kelly says:

      Since it takes place pretty much right in Seattle, it’s very possible that it could be! It really is a sad situation for everyone involved, and I think that this book would really do a lot to help others more aware of that situation, and figure out ways that we all can do our part to help.

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