While less a tour de force than "Poisonwood Bible", this is still a powerful and engaging novel about memory and family and coming to terms with reality.
I love all things Kingsolver and this was no exception. It's written in that style of her earlier stuff (The Bean Trees and Pigs in Heaven)...great dialogue, memorable characters and the kind of casual profundity that makes a person wriggle with delight and think "I wish I'd said that first."
Cody Noline loses her beloved sister and soulmate to missionary work in Central America, finds herself having an existential crisis, and goes back to her childhood home of Grace, AZ, to hide out. She drifts into town, ostensibly to teach for a single year, but more than that to surround herself with her past.
I love Kingsolver's newer books, but they're heavier. Animal Dreams is light in the best sense of the word. It is populated with characters that you'd love to meet and is a story that makes you feel good about humanity. I wish these people were my neighbors.
Codi Noline returns to the sleepy mining town of Grace, Arizona, to care for her father, who is suffering from Alzheimer's disease. It is a bad time for her: disappointed in her personal life, she has closed down her emotions in defense against a heart that cares too easily. "I had quietly begun to hope for nothing at all in the way of love, so as not to be disappointed," she muses. In Grace, she finds friends, allies, and a love that endures. This strong second novel confirms the promise shown in The Bean Trees (LJ 2/1/88), a deserved critical and commercial success. Kingsolver's characters are winners, especially the women, who take charge of life without fuss or complaint. Her novel compares to those of Ann Tyler in its engaging people and message that is upbeat but realistic. Kingsolver's dedication to complex social and environmental causes enriches the story line. Highly recommended
I loved Poisonwood Bible and Prodigal Summer but this book really did not do much for me. I didn't really get into the characters or the story at all.
After a while Barbara Kingsolver's books seem to all read alike. This happened to be the fourth of her books that I read. Unfortunately, it had nothing new.