Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver
Animal Dreams has been sitting on my shelf for a while. At least a year I figure, probably longer. I first read Barbara Kingsolver when I had to read a book for a class I was taking. If I can remember correctly, I had to choose a book that involved diversity, either cultural or racial. I chose Pigs In Heaven because it dealt with adoption and cultural (Native American) issues. I had no idea at the time that it was actually a sequel to The Bean Trees (which is also sitting on my shelf). I then read The Poisonwood Bible which is one of my favorite books of all time.
Animal Dreams qualifies as my "A" book for the A to Z challenge, so I was pretty happy to get a chance to read it as I have a feeling it would have continued to sit on my shelf.
The book is about a woman in her 30's (I can relate) who has spent most of her adult like forgetting her past. The actual memories she does have, she doesn't quite believe in. She and her sister grew up in a strict home with their widowed father. He was the town doctor in a small town in Arizona and she never thought she fit in with the town. She later finds out that she is as much a part of the town as anyone else.
When her sister Hallie, who we only know through letters and memories, leaves for Nicaragua during the time of the Contras crisis, Codi decides to go back to her home town. Her main reason for going home is to see her father who is suffering from Alzheimer's. She accepts a job as the biology teacher at the high school and falls into a romance with Loyd, a man who she has a past with.
The story follows a year in Codi's life. She faithfully writes to her sister and occasionally visits her father. She becomes involved with a campaign to help save the town from an environmental pollutant. The biggest challenge she faces is finding her past. She begins to remember her life in the town of Grace and faces her future.
The book takes place in the mid 80's but is timely in its environmental tone. It all still fits! I was a little lost about the political issues in Nicaragua and Honduras because I was in middle and high school at the time. I was fairly unaware of big news at the time. I do recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Barbara Kingsolver. She's consistently good.