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Animal Dreams: A Novel Paperback – May 7, 2013
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"The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10 comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, The Lying Game. Pre-order today
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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""Kingsolver probes the human heart with uncommon wisdom. Animal Dreams is a gracefully written, large-spirited novel. Anchored on the earth, it dares to soar into the ethereal."-- "New York Newsday""One of the year's best works of fiction." -- "Detroit News and Free Press""Animal Dreams is a novel that feel closer to the truth about modern lives than anything I've read in a long time . . . An astonishing book that ought to put Barbara Kingsolver in the first ranks of fiction writers." -- "Cosmopolitan""Rich, complex, witty . . . This is a sweet book, full of bitter pain; a beautiful weaving of the light and the dark. This one will be with us for a long time."-- "Washington Post Book World""Kingsolver is giving a new voice to our literature. Animal Dreams solidly establishes Kingsolver as someone who will give her public more than one great book."-- "Los Angeles Times Book Review""An emotional masterpiece . . . A novel in which humor, passion, and superb prose conspire to seize a reader by the heart and by the soul."-- "New York Daily News""A glorious tapestry . . . "Animal Dreams" is rich fodder for our own sweet, satisfying dreams."-- "Denver Post"""Animal Dreams" literally bursts with life. Its description of how one woman finds her way back from the edge of despair seems absolutely perfect . . . "Animal Dreams" leaves the reader filled with wonder and hope."-- "Houston Post""Kingsolver achieves a fully realized and profoundly moral vision, one that is rooted in the land and our relationship to it."-- "San FranciscoChronicle""Barbara Kingsolver demonstrates a special gift for the vivid evocation of landscape and of her characters' state of mind."-- "New York Times Book Review""A novel full of aching sadness--as well as joy, humor, insight and wonderful writing."-- "Arizona Daily Star"
From the Back Cover
"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 trainman and latter-day philosopher. 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.
Blending flashbacks, dreams, and Native American legends, Animal Dreams is a suspenseful love story and a moving exploration of life's largest commitments.
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Top customer reviews
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.
This book is not an easy read. It's pace is sometimes agonizingly slow but that is what gives you the time to truly contemplate the parallels of all our lives. I am not much for quoting other people but I found myself highlighting several passages to re-read later and possibly quote to a few friends going through hard times.
I would recommend this book to people who appreciate keeping it real in life and literature, although this book and it's characters are fictional..there's a whole lot of "real" to relate too. This book will stay with you long after you have finished it and remind you that even if you struggle alone, you are not alone in struggling.
I really wanted to like this book. Especially since The Poisonwood Bible is one of my all-time favorites. I ordered Animal Dreams with high expectations, based on the overwhelmingly positive reviews. I don't know what happened but I am a little over halfway through Animal Dreams and I am so terribly let down. I will say that Kingsolver is an immensely talented writer who certainly knows how to turn a phrase and use descriptive imagery. The main problem with Animal Dreams is that it is so boring. You know it’s bad when the height of the action is a cock fight. I detest animal cruelty and have to wonder why Kingsolver even included this as it added nothing to her main male protagonist besides make me wonder why Cosima would even continue to be with him after witnessing his participation in such an event. The fact that he immediately quits upon learning that Cosima disapproves of his life-long “hobby” struck me as very unrealistic and insincere. Is Loyd such a weak and immoral person that he couldn’t recognize the brutality of this “sport” until Cosima pointed it out to him? Is he quitting just so he can continue getting laid? Or is he so crazy in love with Cosima (after a few weeks of dating) that he will give up his beloved hobby in an instant to please her? It saddens me to admit that I don’t really care. I stopped believing this story about a hundred pages in and have not found any reason yet to change my mind.
Another big problem I am having with this book is the unrealistic characters. I enjoy complicated characterization and expect them to be flawed as most normal human beings are. I gather so far that main protagonist Cosima puts very little effort into her looks, career or personality but is a “rockstar” who sports a Billy Idol haircut and effortlessly wins the heart of studly Loyd. Her sister Hallie is a “supermodel” farmer with a heart of gold who is busy saving the world. Hallie's story actually sounds like it would be infinitely more interesting than Cosima's but sadly we just don't get too much of Hallie in this book. Their father Doc Homer is so emotionally aloof as to appear almost robotic and adds almost no real depth to the tale, though he could have. The poor old guy only makes the plot more cumbersome and plodding, but it’s not his fault. I sense there was a much more interesting person in there somewhere but Kingsolver would not let us meet him.
New boyfriend and former lover Loyd is portrayed as some kind of ladies man with a heart of gold in spite of his enjoyment of cock fighting and a checkered past. Cosima’s “best friend” Emelina is a married stay at home mother with a whole litter of children who maintains a perfect figure and a perfect marriage and as far as I can tell, perfectly dull children. These characters are almost caricature like with their total lack of realistic human qualities. I just cannot relate to any of these people and their “struggles”.
Cosima returns to her home town of Grace, Arizona to stay with Emelina in her pretty little house in the middle of a pretty little orchard and all of these transitions are effortless. There’s no real conflict presented as would normally exist in the real world. No, this rock star of a person Cosima moves back to her hometown and immediately lands a job, a studly boyfriend and perfect little house to live in with the perfect little family. The resulting story is just resoundingly dull.
Nothing happens to add any kind of depth, complexity or conflict to this tale or the people in it. Sure we have a few remnants of Cosima’s past and her complicated relationship with her father, but not nearly enough plot development to base an entire novel on. Kingsolver was perfectly capable of fleshing this story out and making it meaningful and compelling but for some reason did not. I wonder if this was an attempt at chick lit to appeal to a larger audience since The Poisonwood Bible is a magnificent book, but clearly not for everyone.
There is very little dramatic appeal to this book. Simply put, not much actually happens, besides the cock fight and Cosima selling some peacock pinatas in an attempt to save her home town. I agree with the other reviewers who believe that the environmental angle was thrown into the story in an attempt to elevate it a notch or two above boring chick lit. I will go ahead and finish this book though at this point there is little it could do to redeem itself. I am very disappointed but I do forgive Ms. Kingsolver for boring me to death. I still consider her a very gifted and accomplished author and encourage my fellow readers to skip this book and read The Poisonwood Bible instead.