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Animal Dreams Paperback – June 21, 1991
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"Kingsolver is a writer of rare ambition and unequivocal talent . . . Animal Dreams is a complex, passionate, bravely challenging book." -- -- Chicago Tribune
About the Author
Barbara Kingsolver’s books of fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction are widely translated and have won numerous literary awards. She is the founder of the PEN/Bellwether Prize, and in 2000 was awarded the National Humanities Medal, the country’s highest honor for service through the arts. Prior to her writing career she studied and worked as a biologist. She lives with her husband on a farm in southern Appalachia.
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Set in the American Southwest, this novel explores politics, nature, mountains, deserts, abandoned adobe villages set in steep cliff faces, American ladies descended from Spain, Mexican Americans and Native Americans, cockfights, a mining company, polluted rivers, high school teenagers, a younger sister off to help the rural poor in Nicaragua, jealosy, living under the shadow of a super sibling, family ties in a Hispanic dominated Arizona town, a father stricken with dementia, and the ghosts of a mother who died right after childbirth and a daughter who never knew the light of day.
Kingsolver is her laconic, self-deprecating self, her words painting crystal clear images of the people and places her protagonist meets and visits. From a plane high above the desert "Bright backyard swimming pools gleamed like turquoise nuggets."
But Ms. Kingsolver wears her politics on her sleeve, and at times one wonders if one is reading a book of fiction or a political manifesto. It is too bad that revolutions nor socialism work for they are often good ideas.
Still, the local battle against the company mine is victorious, and the Stitch and Bitch club can stop selling their peacock pinatas in Tuscon and go back to more urgent matters, such as sewing and gossiping, or "bitching.'
This is a story, like most Kingsolver novels, about a lot of different things, but mostly it is about a woman named Codi Noline (who discovers het name is actually Nolina) trying, and finding, her place in the world.
The story is about Cosima, a woman struggling to find her place in the world. She returns to her childhood hometown of Grace to live with a friend ands begins to relearn her relationships with her dying father, neighbours, former lover and absent sister.
Codi (as Cosima is known) learns that her sister, Hallie, has signed up to help the Nicaraguan farmers who are living under the threat of U.S.- backed Contra insurgents.
Codi says:'All I want is to be like you,to be brave, to walk into a country of chickens and land mines and call that home, and have it be home. ' - p. 200
Codi's ex-boyfriend from her teenage years, Loyd, reappears and they take up once again. Loyd does not know that Codi was pregnant with his child when she was fifteen, but miscarried and buried the feotus secretly. Loyd is a home loving type of person, who genuinely wants to make a life with Codi, but she is too self-loathing to see it, and plans to move on when the school term ends. Loyd introduces Codi to the Indian pueblos, and landscape:
'The sandstone had been carved by ice ages and polished by desert eons of sandpaper winds. The place did not so much inspire religion as seemed to be religion itself.' - p.210
This book overs so much of what is important and beautiful in the world, it is sad and funny and most of all, meaningful.
Without giving the ending away, Codi goes through a transformation during her Year of Grace. Of the townspeople she says: 'In their eyes my life should have been simple, purely a matter of love and he right wardrobe. It was as if I had fifty mothers.' - p. 311