180 of 188 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 1999
I stumbled upon this book in 1991 when the cover art caught my eye. I had finished it by the afternoon, and by the evening, I was back at it with a pencil. The magical way that Kingsolver weaves language had me marking passages in the text and furiously copying quotes into the margins of my dayplanner. I was a college sophomore at the time, and Codi's sometimes brilliant, often hapless search to find her place in the world was familiar and affirming. I quickly bought Animal Dreams for six or seven women friends and family and each of them, whether they read it that day, or years later, raced to their phones or desks when they finished to thank me for selecting a novel that spoke so personally to them. Twenty-something women seem to especially identify with Codi's journey. While her story, and those of Loyd, Hallie, Doc Homer and the others will stay with you, the novel's impact really comes from it's powerful prose. You'll reread the same passages over and over, savoring the remarkable way Kingsolver constructs the simplest sentance. This book still feels like my personal anthem to that time in my life; thanks to Barbara Kingsolver for giving me such enjoyment and insight. If you like this book, be sure to get a copy of High Tide in Tucson, her essay collection. Don't let the "essay" part deter you. I have copied and circulated the title piece to women friends and family ages 16 to 89 and always it always elicits the same marvelled response. It's breathtaking.
84 of 87 people found the following review helpful
on December 21, 1999
Animal Dreams is a rich tapestry woven of many threads: mystery, love, politics, environment, benelovance, history, culture, and the finding of oneself. When Codi Noline returns to her hometown of Grace, Arizona, she must confront all these things while taking care of an ailing father, worrying about her sister in the fields of Nicaragua, and dealing with the deterioration of the town's river. She is conflicted with who she is and where she is going; she repeatedly reminds her new lover she is not going to stay yet has no idea why. While Codi searches for something to look for, she unearths a town with many secrets and many stories. Like Codi, the reader learns about the powers of culture and history; of politics and environmentalism; and of family and love. Kingsolver's ability to catch colors, emotions, and life makes for a very engaging, beautifully-written book.
57 of 61 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2005
This is Kingsolver's second novel and its as good as Bean Trees. Also set in the southwest (this time Grace, Arizona), Animal Dreams revolves around Codi Noline who returns to her hometown to care for her father, who is suffering from Alzheimer's disease. She is content with being alone because throughout her life she has consistently felt let down- first by the lack of attention by her father, by her failure to become a doctor, and lastly her pathetic personal life. Returning home though brings back her past which she has blocked many memories of, and the resurgence of an ex lover who wants to make amends by loving her right. While at home, Codi faces a lot of unanswered questions including the death of her mother, the disappearance of her sister, and the reasons behind her father's disguising (or simply ignoring the truths). Her father, a once non-emotional, inflexible family doctor must also try and remain the composure he has always held, yet his thoughts and mind race and spill out opening secrets that Codi has always wanted to find out.
What makes this book exceptional is that Kingsolver writes honestly, and doesnt have flowery descriptions or paints her characters as immoral or saintly. They are vulnerable, likeable, and faulty. She builds her characters to become stronger, and considers miscommunication a cancer which if not taken care of will spread and cause trouble for years. Kingsolver also has a way of writing about the southwest that makes it come alive. Codi's heritage is American Indian as well as her lover's, and we learn more about their teachings, practices, traditions, and spiritual beliefs. Kingsolver paints a good description of the importance the American Indian way of life.
If this book appeals to you, then Bean Trees may also be a good choice for your second novel. Kingsolver will not disappoint you, she is an excellent and realistic writer.
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 1999
I teach Animal Dreams every year to 11th grade English students. The most amazing thing about the book is the amount of emotional power that the characters communicate to the reader. I literally feel like I've been punched in the stomach somewhere in almost every chapter. Kingsolver conveys these emotions to me, but more exciting is that my 16 and 17 year old students feel the same way. She is able to provoke these feelings in an avid reader and in inexperienced readers as well. Kingsolver presents an idea or situation in an almost casual way and then when it returns it is packed with so much spiritual and emotional import that it literally makes you feel that the wind is knocked out of you. Without telling details and spoiling the book I will just say that Animal Dreams is the best novel that I have come across for teaching students about finding their life's purpose, mending past pain, and the importance of a sense of home and community. I love it!
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on April 12, 2000
"Animals dream about the things they do in the daytime, just like people do. If you want sweet dreams, you've got to live a sweet life." So says Loyd Peregrina, a handsome Apache in "Animal Dreams". But when Codi Noline returns to her hometown, Loyd's advice is painfully out of her reach. Dreamless and at the end of her rope, Codi comes back to Grace, Arizona to confront her past and face her ailing, distant father. What she finds is a town threatened by a silent environmental catastrophe, some startling clues to her own identity, and a man whose view of the world could change the course of her life.
"Animal Dreams," by Barbara Kingsolver, is a dense and vivid novel, which grasps the enduring question of 'what it means to be alive'. "Animal Dreams" captures the beauty of life. Kingsolver use of flashback allows readers to relate their life experiences to those of the characters and in return learn some more about themselves. When Codi finally learns that the flashback she had about her mother's death was real it helped her to better understand her fathers devotion to her and their relationship. Readers realize that things are not always as they seem the first time around, and that when people are cold and distant they may only be showing they care. Because Kingsolver's characters are very realistic the story comes to life and makes it easier for the readers to relate. The descriptions and details in the book make "Animal Dreams" very authentic. Animal Dreams is an inspirational, sweet, and enduring book. If you enjoy books with a deep meaning, grasping you by the soul, this is for you!
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 1999
I have also read "The Bean Trees" and "Pigs in Heaven", so this writer was one that I looked forward to reading again. I was not disappointed. Her insight into the relationships of parent and child, siblings - and the way that those experiences affect our personal love relationships is extraordinary. Her descriptive idiom is fresh and invigorating. I regularly found myself near to tears, particularly when Hallie went missing, and in understanding how her father was unable to express his true love for his daughters who grew up feeling like outsiders.
The plot is not an action adventure, but a journey inwardly, which takes Codi from feeling cast adrift, to a safe mooring in a port which is her emotional home - a fact that the reader recognises way before Codi does.
A very true and well crafted novel - and I will certainly be looking for anything else written by the author. Thank you.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on October 24, 2000
Like all of Ms. Kingsolver's books, Animal Dreams is so well written that you are accutely aware of the author's genius as you read. The characters are so well developed you can "feel" and "see" them. Intricate storylines are delicately and seamlessly woven together with beautiful prose, creating a "big picture" that is cohesive and thoroughly believeable. Without giving too much of the storyline away, Ms. Kingsolver's ability to subtly incorporate several social and political issues into her story - family relationships, Contras in Nicaragua, American Indians, ecology and corporate responsibility, to name a few - makes this book multidimensional. In my opinion, this is not Ms. Kingsolver's best book ... but she was well on her way to perfecting her incredible writing and storytelling skills while writing this book. It is an excellent, thought-provoking read.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on March 27, 2000
Animal Dreams is a vivid book that takes you through the life of Cosima while it makes you think of your own. It is touching and inspiring, reflecting on the different sociological (like the Indian reservations and lands) and ecological issues (like the river and the dam) it addresses. Although I found this book a little bit tough to read because of its rich and complex language, I found Kingsolver's words uniquely descriptive and full of emotion. You will be kept at the edge of your seat wondering what will happen next, in her love life, in her professional life, with her family... I definitely recommend this book. If you find it confusing and boring at the beginning, you are not alone, the book bounces from love to science to land. Have it a little patience and it will take your mind to places it has never been before and your heart to emotions it has never felt before.
44 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 1998
After having my community college students read the book for several semesters, I thought I'd see what others readers say about it. The moving, personal praise the book receives - some of which is evidenced on this page - is what inclined faculty to use the book in the first place, but my classroom experience has been less laudatory.
Basically, the best it has ever done is acceptance. I have never seen one student sparked by the book, in the same way that many reviewers here have been. I have seen a number of students loathe the book as overwritten (the dream sequences and plot elements used to motivate characters), preachy, and questionable - many have expressed doubts about the veracity of most all of the characters, but particularly Doc Homer and Codi. They just don't see much in these two as believable or interesting or appealing.
Myself, I feel that the book is well enough written, different enough, and substantial enough to warrant the time needed to read it. It's even enjoyable in a few places, on a first read. However the book hasn't had much resonance for me in subsequent rereadings. I plan to drop it from my syllabus.
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2000
As a devout Kingsolver fan, I have only good things to say about this book. Some people complain that it starts off slow, has no plot, is a "chick book", and is just a waste of their precious time, but I will now undo all those remarks. We jump right into the story and are wonderfully introduced to the characters as if they are real acquaintances and future friends. It is the perfect combination of introduction and fast-paced story telling. The plot is a well thought out and magically woven, but is besides the point. Even if it did have a horrendous plot, it is written so beutifully, and has such intriguing characters that it would be irrelevant. But it just so happens that the plot is captivating and quick-paced. Hehehe...a "chick book" well, it is clearly written from a womens perspective, and i have found that "chicks" tend to like it more than guys, but if guys were more patient and compassionate, they would love it as much as women. If guys don't like this book, it is by no fault of the book. Lastly, I can't think of anything better to do with your time than read this book.