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Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver Review

Title: Animal Dreams

Author: Barbara Kingsolver

First published September 1, 1990

342 pages, Paperback

ISBN: 9780060921149 (ISBN10: 0060921145)

Rating: 4.06


Loyd Peregrina, an Apache trainman, believes that animals dream about the things they do in the day just like people. This philosophy is exactly what Codi Noline needs to hear as she returns to her hometown, Grace, Arizona.

Codi is struggling to come to terms with her past and reconcile with her distant father. But Grace is facing a silent environmental disaster that threatens to destroy the town.

Amidst the chaos, Codi discovers surprising clues about her identity and meets a man who could change her life. Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal Dreams weaves together flashbacks, dreams, and Native American legends to create a suspenseful love story and a poignant exploration of life’s biggest commitments.

This book is a masterpiece that showcases Kingsolver’s signature style while delivering her most powerful story yet.

About the Author

Barbara Kingsolver is a celebrated novelist, essayist, and poet from the United States. Born in Annapolis, Maryland in 1955, Kingsolver grew up in Carlisle, a rural area in Kentucky.

At the age of seven, she went with her family to the former Republic of Congo, where they lived without electricity or running water. After high school, Kingsolver attended DePauw University in Indiana on a music scholarship, but later switched to Biology.

She was involved in activism on her campus and took part in protests against the Vietnam War. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in 1977 and later earned a Master’s degree in ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of Arizona.

Kingsolver began her career as a science writer for the University of Arizona in the mid-1980s, which led to some freelance feature writing. She then started writing fiction after winning a short story contest in a local newspaper.

Kingsolver’s most famous works include The Poisonwood Bible, a novel about a missionary family in the Congo, and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, a non-fiction book about her family’s quest to eat locally. Her books, which focus on subjects such as social justice, biodiversity, and the relationship between humans and their environment, have all been bestsellers since 1993.

Kingsolver has received various awards, including the UK’s Orange Prize for Fiction 2010, the National Humanities Medal, and has been nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

In 2000, Kingsolver established the Bellwether Prize to support literature that promotes social change. She is married to Steven Hopp, and they have two daughters.

In 2004, Kingsolver moved with her family to a farm in Washington County, Virginia, where they currently reside. Kingsolver is not fond of fame and created her website to counter the false information about her online.

She says, “If you don’t define yourself, it will get done for you in colourful ways.”

Editoral Review

Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver – A Haunting Tale of Family, Love and Redemption

Barbara Kingsolver is a renowned American author, who has penned several bestselling novels including “The Poisonwood Bible”. “Animal Dreams” published in 1990 is her third book and is considered one of her masterpieces.

Kingsolver’s writing style is known for its vivid imagery, exquisite literary prose and its ability to transport the reader to a different place and time. “Animal Dreams” is no exception, a beautifully crafted novel about family, love and redemption, set in the small town of Grace, Arizona.

The novel revolves around Codi Noline, the protagonist, and her journey of self-discovery. When she returns to Grace after many years, Codi finds herself confronting not only the townspeople but also her own painful past.

As she grapples with relationships, memories and the consequences of her choices, she also explores her family’s history and the devastating impact of mining on the town’s residents. In “Animal Dreams”, Kingsolver creates a cast of unforgettable characters who are complex, relatable and flawed.

Codi, a restless wanderer, returns to her roots only to be faced with the ghosts of her past. Her relationship with her sister Hallie, who is a fearless activist in Nicaragua, is fraught with tension and misunderstandings.

The supporting characters like Loyd, her love interest, Doc Homer, her father, and Viola, her best friend, add depth and nuance to the story. Kingsolver’s portrayal of the southwestern landscape is evocative and stunning.

She captures the endless blue skies, the arid beauty of the desert and the rugged mountains. Her descriptions of the flora and fauna, the animals and the natural landmarks, are breathtaking.

The novel explores several themes such as feminism, environmentalism, colonialism, political unrest, and family dynamics. Through Codi’s journey, Kingsolver emphasizes the importance of acknowledging our roots and the impact of our actions on the people and environment around us.

She also highlights the need for compassion and empathy towards those who are different from us and the power of love to heal. While “Animal Dreams” is a powerful and gripping read, it may not be for everyone.

The pacing can be slow at times, and the non-linear narrative may confuse some readers. However, these stylistic choices also allow Kingsolver to delve deeper into the emotions and experiences of her characters.

The novel’s ending may also leave some readers wanting more closure, but it is the ambiguity that makes it all the more haunting. In conclusion, “Animal Dreams” is a haunting and visually stunning novel that explores complex themes of family, love, and redemption.

Kingsolver’s exquisite writing, memorable characters, and vivid imagery make this a must-read for fans of literary fiction. It is a powerful call to action to be aware of our actions and their impact on our environment, relationships, and communities.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a meaningful and thought-provoking read. I give “Animal Dreams” a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars.