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Animal Dreams    by Barbara Kingsolver order for
Animal Dreams
by Barbara Kingsolver
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2003 (1990)
Hardcover, Paperback

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* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

This novel was originally published in 1990 and recently reissued. Barbara Kingsolver is a master storyteller ... Codi Noline returns to her hometown of Grace, Arizona to teach a school year and to try to prop up her physician father, who is in failing health. Her sister Hallie has gone to Nicaragua to teach agronomy. The book is peppered with letters from Hallie, describing conditions in Nicaragua. She makes the reader care about a place so far from our own sheltered lives.

Codi is told by an old flame, Loyd Peregrina, that, 'Animals dream about things they do in the daytime, just like people do. If you want to have sweet dreams, you've got to live a sweet life.' Animal Dreams is full of such good thoughts, as when Codi talks of reconnecting with your past, 'There's such a gulf between yourself and who you were then, but people speak to that other person and it answers; it's like having a stranger as a house guest in your skin.' That one delights me. Or how about, when Loyd is speaking of the Pueblo Indians' simple architecture, he says, 'No Washington Monument. Just build something that Mother Earth will want to hold in her arms.' Wonderful.

Kingsolver's books are full of little truths that make readers shake their heads in agreement. Her descriptions of Indian villages and of Indian rituals made me feel that I was there witnessing the events. The author is a very fine storyteller with a thorough knowledge of human nature. Her characters are as full of human flaws as we all are. But they also have redeeming graces that make them stand out above the common crowd. Animal Dreams is hard to put down.

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