Saturday, 14 February 2015

Animal Dreams - Barbara Kingsolver

This isn't a new book.  This isn't her more famous "The Poisonwood Bible".  But this is the second Kingsolver book I have read recently and I find her unputdownable.  It isn't a thriller, there are no dead bodies of the kind we find in police procedural tomes;  it's set in a very small town in the canyons of Arizona, mostly peopled by Hispanics and the decendants of miners.  So - not worth picking up then?  Oh yes.  Definitely.

Cosima (Codi) Noline left her widowed father and the small town of Grace for med school.  She found a nice guy - an emergency room doctor, and lives with him and her sister Hallie for several years, stopping short by only three months of getting her certification as a doctor.  Why?  A sort of "there's got to be more to life than this" voice, in her head.  Hallie goes of to Nicaragua, to teach peasants how to grow crops  and start to live again after the US went in and removed Noriaga (remember that?  it was a long time ago) and is unlikely to come back. So when Codi gets the call from a neighbour about her father's confused state of mind, there is nothing really to give up where she is and she arrives back home.  And there is the difficulty, for the town of Grace after fifteen years is just as strange to her as it was the day she left.  She'll have to find herself, her old memories - as well as keeping her eye on Dad.   She'll also have to find out what her life is really about.
If you happen across this one, don't give up if the first few chapters seem slow and rather troubled.  This, I think, is intentional, for this is how Codi feels.  It turns into a kind of love story, love of life, love of family and love of the land; and woven in there is a love story for Codi and a fight against the "big companies" that might just be the making of her.