The primary characters, modern day journalist, Willa Tavolouris and her husband Iano and their two two adult children, Antigone, and Zeke muddle through lives of broken dreams and unclear futures. The other family comprised of Darwinian science teacher, Thatcher Greenwood, and his scientist neighbor, Mary Treat, carry on a platonic relationship based on their love of botany and belief in Dawinism in a time when creationism is predominant.
The novel rambles and while the writing is eloquent, the story meanders, and the point of the telling is not evident. The overall point is that society is changing whether 100 years ago or presently and that people have to adjust and go on even when the future path is unclear and compromised by a number of obstacles and barriers. People seem to persist in spite of themselves and perhaps in that there is some hope.
On the UU AWAOL book rating scale, Unsheltered, earns a 6 out of 10. The audience for Kingsolver's novel would probably be over 50 and have some life experience to appreciate the more subtle aspects of the story.