Memory is a complicated thing, a relative truth, but not its twin. – Animal Dreams
Animal Dreams is the story of Cosima (Codi) Noline. When Codi’s sister Hallie moves to Nicaragua to help with farming in the war-torn country, Codi decides to return to their hometown of Grace, Arizona. While she is taking care of her father, who has Alzheimer Disease, she lives with a friend and teaches at the local high school. There is a full cast of characters, including an old high school boyfriend, but this is definitely Codi’s story. She must come to terms with a tragic past, involving the death of her mother and a secret that she has kept from everyone, including her sister.
Animal Dreams is a very quotable book, but it had some serious flaws. I didn’t have a lot of sympathy for Codi because she made things more difficult than they had to be. I suppose that’s true of people in real life, but I got so frustrated reading about the decisions she made and the way she handled things that I found myself wanting to put the book down. I love Barbara Kingsolver. I love her style, I love the way she writes, and usually I love the things she writes about. Instead of this book being a study on how people were impacted by the problems in Nicaragua, and how women, and people in general, deal with tragedy, it became something else. I’m not exactly sure what, but it definitely went in the wrong direction. Hallie’s story in Nicaragua became an afterthought. The “reveal” that I thought would take up most of the book was literally resolved in one line. The ending in general felt rushed.
I’m glad that this is not the first book I read by Kingsolver because otherwise I don’t think I would have read any of her other books. I don’t regret reading it, it’s definitely not the worst book I’ve ever read, but I don’t think I would recommend it. Still, 1 disappointment out of 5 Kingsolver books I’ve read is certainly not bad.