To get from beginning to end of Lawrence Jackson's Shelter, you'll probably need the following: a detailed map of Baltimore's neighborhoods, especially the ones bordering the sprawling campus of Johns Hopkins University, a dictionary to look up the occasional obscure or archaic word, and a great deal of patience ... For a book with a meandering narrative, including lots of excursions by foot, boat or bus and whip-lashing digressions, a story line actually exists, thin yet compelling.
... penetrating ... by turns searing, informative and funny, as Jackson explores both serious issues and absurdities of his life and his city ... Jackson renders all of this, along with some nuanced and well-researched Baltimore and Maryland history, with a literary flair. The essays at times have an almost stream-of-consciousness feel.
Writing about bus drivers, the author showcases the brilliant embodiment of geography that will make this book come alive for non-Baltimoreans ... countless passages of sparkling prose ... An extraordinary dual portrait of the author and his hometown—angry, tender, incisive, and bracingly eloquent.
... the yard-work scenes are epic and engrossing ... On that peg he hangs an atmospheric history of Black Baltimore, sketching vivid profiles of famous locals while revisiting old haunts, surveying political wrangles over poverty and crime, and taking in a King Day parade that gets stymied by horse manure. In resonant prose, Jackson ably conveys the feuding aspirations and unease of the Black middle class ... The result is a stirring reflection on the meaning of home.