September 07, 2012

Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver

Sometimes it can be hard to find yourself.  Even as an adult, there are so many people wandering around out there, not knowing exactly where they are going.  And the biggest message we can get from that is that it's ok.  Everybody has a different path, and that's kind of what this book was all about to me.

Codi Noline returns to her hometown to teach biology for a year.  It's not a planned move, Codi's never been really good at planning or staying in one spot.  This is just another step on the road as she meanders around trying to find some bit of happiness.  In fact, her father's decline from Alzheimer's is all that brings her back anyway.  Meanwhile, her sister Hallie is off to South America, to try to teach farmers a way of saving their crops and lands, but finds herself in some dangerous work because of the political climate there.  Codi does reconnect with several people from her childhood though, most notably a man that she had conceived a child with when she was in her teens, although he doesn't know about it.  And as she starts to settle in her old urge to pick up and go reemerges, and she just can't figure out what she should do with her life.

Codi is a compelling character.  You can feel sorry for her, and empathize with her, because she is so real.  Kingsolver is a character builder, and that's what all her books are about, the people.  Codi is no exception, she has some real problems in her life and with her feelings and I can really relate to her.  Especially about the not knowing what to do with your life.  Hey boyfriend Loyd (and yes it is spelled that way) is also a pretty decent guy.  He has some hobbies that I'm not thrilled with but allows himself to grow and tries to be a good person.  So that's admirable in my eyes.  All the other characters are pretty wonderful too.  They're all so real and definitely can remind you of people in your own life.  It was like watching someone's life go by, in a book.

I could see where this book could be potentially boring for some.  Not a lot really happens, it's mostly the main characters musings and conversations between everyone.  But I found it easy to immerse myself in the book and get lost.  I kind of feel like a broken record saying it, but everything just felt so real.  Like I could go out West and find this group of people.  The main point of views switch between Codi and her father, and I found that a little distracting, but it did help with some background information in regards to Codi.  But then because her father is suffering from a mental disease it also made it hard to understand from his point of view.  Which is clever writing but still frustrating at times.

A very good book and one I'd recommend.  I wouldn't say it was a favorite but I found it very compelling.  I look forward to reading more by Kingsolver.

Animal Dreams
Copyright 1990
352 pages

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