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Animal Dreams
by Barbara Kingsolver

Paperback - 352 pages Reprint edition (August 1991)
HarperCollins (paper); ISBN: 0060921145

"Barbara Kingsolver demonstrates a special gift for the vivid evocation of landscape and of her characters' state of mind."

"If you want sweet dreams, you've got to live a sweet life." Loyd Peregrina in Animal Dreams Cynical and self-absorbed, Codi Noline has been drifting in an aimless relationship and through a series of jobs when she packs up and returns home to the town of Grace, Arizona to care for her physician father, who has Alzheimers, and to teach high school science. Emotionally distant from her childhood and father, feeling herself to be an outsider and a failure, Codi sees nothing but differences between herself and her younger sister, Hallie, a political activist, and now, a volunteer worker in Nicaragua. Through her involvements with Loyd Peregrina (a handsome trainman of Pueblo, Navajo, and Apache descent), the local matriarchs of the "Stitch and Bitch Club," and her students, and through reading Hallie's letters from Nicaragua, Codi gradually lets go of her defensive isolation. Slowly, she recovers her connection to a sense of self and a community that has always been there, but she had forgotten. When her hometown is threatened with environmental catastrophe, she finds herself, like Hallie, taking responsibility for changing the world around her.

-1990 Edward Abbey Award for Ecofiction-1991 PEN Center USA West Literary Award for Fiction-1991 American Library Association Best Books of the Year-1991 American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults

Kingsolver on Animal Dreams: "Animal Dreams was the first novel I wrote on purpose, so it's more calculated thematically than The Bean Trees. The question I began with was this: why do some people engage with the world and its problems, while others turn their backs on it? And why is it that these two sorts of people often occur even in the same family? I'm very curious about this because I'm a human rights activist myself. So I invented two sisters with apparently opposite personalities, and then I invested them with a family and began to work backwards to find the point in their shared history that would have pushed them into opposite directions."

 

articles and reviews
September 2, 1990

In One Small Town, the Weight of the World
By JANE SMILEY
Have American novelists, especially younger ones, abandoned a larger political and cultural vision in favor of narrow domesticity? Or have critics who make these charges failed to see a new vision emerging in the place of outmoded forms? Barbara Kingsolver's second novel, "Animal Dreams," reveals how complex any answer to these questions can be, and how difficult it is for a novelist to forge a compelling political vision in our new world, where so many systems of social organization have turned out to be either ineffectual or bankrupt. [read more]
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