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Animal Dreams


Animal Dreams Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

"Animals dream about the things they do in the day time just like people do. If you want sweet dreams, you've got to live a sweet life." So says Loyd Peregrina, a handsome Apache trainman and latter-day philosopher. But when Codi Noline returns to her hometown, Loyd's advice is painfully out of her reach. Dreamless and at the end of her rope, Codi comes back to Grace, Arizona to confront her past and face her ailing, distant father. What the finds is a town threatened by a silent environmental catastrophe, some startling clues to her own identity, and a man whose view of the world could change the course of her life. Blending flashbacks, dreams, and Native American legends, Animal Dreams is a suspenseful love story and a moving exploration of life's largest commitments. With this work, the acclaimed author of The Bean Trees and Homeland and Other Stories sustains her familiar voice while giving readers her most remarkable book yet.


In a combination of flashbacks, dreams, and Native American legends, the acclaimed author of The Bean Trees offers a suspenseful love story and a moving exploration of life's largest commitments. "Probes the human heart with uncommon wisdom".--New York Newsday.

About the Author

Barbara Kingsolver was born on April 8, 1955. She grew up "in the middle of an alfalfa field," in the part of eastern Kentucky that lies between the opulent horse farms and the impoverished coal fields. While her family has deep roots in the region, she never imagined staying there herself. "The options were limited--grow up to be a farmer or a farmer's wife."

Kingsolver has always been a storyteller: "I used to beg my mother to let me tell her a bedtime story." As a child, she wrote stories and essays and, beginning at the age of eight, kept a journal religiously. Still, it never occurred to Kingsolver that she could become a professional writer. Growing up in a rural place, where work centered mainly on survival, writing didn't seem to be a practical career choice. Besides, the writers she read, she once explained, "were mostly old, dead men. It was inconceivable that I might grow up to be one of those myself . . . "

Kingsolver left Kentucky to attend DePauw University in Indiana, where she majored in biology. She also took one creative writing course, and became active in the last anti-Vietnam War protests. After graduating in 1977, Kingsolver lived and worked in widely scattered places. In the early eighties, she pursued graduate studies in biology and ecology at the University of Arizona in Tucson, where she received a Masters of Science degree. She also enrolled in a writing class taught by author Francine Prose, whose work Kingsolver admires.

Kingsolver's fiction is rich with the language and imagery of her native Kentucky. But when she first left home, she says, "I lost my accent . . . [P]eople made terrible fun of me for the way I used to talk, so I gave it up slowly and became something else." During her years in school and two years spent living in Greece and France she supported herself in a variety of jobs: as an archaeologist, copy editor, X-ray technician, housecleaner, biological researcher and translator of medical documents. After graduate school, a position as a science writer for the University of Arizona soon led her into feature writing for journals and newspapers. Her numerous articles have appeared in a variety of publications, including The Nation, The New York Times, and Smithsonian, and many of them are included in the collection, High Tide in Tucson: Essays from Now or Never. In 1986 she won an Arizona Press Club award for outstanding feature writing, and in 1995, after the publication of High Tide in Tucson, Kingsolver was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from her alma mater, De Pauw University.

Kingsolver credits her careers in scientific writing and journalism with instilling in her a writer's discipline and broadening her "fictional possiblities." Describing herself as a shy person who would generally prefer to stay at home with her computer, she explains that "journalism forces me to meet and talk with people I would never run across otherwise."

From 1985 through 1987, Kingsolver was a freelance journalist by day, but she was writing fiction by night. Married to a chemist in 1985, she suffered from insomnia after becoming pregnant the following year. Instead of following her doctor's recommendation to scrub the bathroom tiles with a toothbrush, Kingsolver sat in a closet and began to write The Bean Trees, a novel about a young woman who leaves rural Kentucky (accent intact) and finds herself living in urban Tucson.

The Bean Trees, published by HarperCollins in 1988, and reissued in a special ten-year anniversary hardcover edition in 1998, was enthusiastically received by critics. But, perhaps more important to Kingsolver, the novel was read with delight and, even, passion by ordinary readers. "A novel can educate to some extent," she told Publishers Weekly. "But first, a novel has to entertain--that's the contract with the reader: you give me ten hours and I'll give you a reason to turn every page. I have a commitment to accessiblity. I believe in plot. I want an English professor to understand the symbolism while at the same time I want the people I grew up with--who may not often read anything but the Sears catalogue--to read my books."

For Kingsolver, writing is a form of political activism. When she was in her twenties she discovered Doris Lessing. "I read the Children of Violence novels and began to understand how a person could write about the problems of the world in a compelling and beautiful way. And it seemed to me that was the most important thing I could ever do, if I could ever do that."

The Bean Treeswas followed by the collection, Homeland and Other Stories(1989), the novels Animal Dreams(1990), and Pigs in Heaven(1993), and the bestselling High Tide in Tucson: Essays from Now and Never(1995). Kingsolver has also published a collection of poetry, Another America: Otra America(Seal Press, 1992, 1998), and a nonfiction book, Holding the Line: Women in the Great Arizona Mine Strike of l983(ILR Press/Cornell University Press, 1989, 1996). The Poisonwood Bible, published in 1998, earned accolades at home and abroad, and was an Oprah's Book Club selection.

Barbara's Prodigal Summer, released in November of 2000, is a novel set in a rural farming community in southern Appalachia. Small Wonder, April 2002, presents twenty-three wonderfully articulate essays. Here Barbara raises her voice in praise of nature, family, literature, and the joys of everyday life while examining the genesis of war, violence, and poverty in our world.

Barbara Kingsolver presently lives outside of Tucson with her husband Steven Hopp, and her two daughters, Camille from a previous marriage, and Lily, who was born in 1996. When not writing or spending time with her family, Barbara gardens, cooks, hikes, and works as an environmental activist and human-rights advocate.

Given that Barbara Kingsolver's work covers the psychic and geographical territories that she knows firsthand, readers often assume that her work is autobiographical. "There are little things that people who know me might recognize in my novels," she acknowledges. "But my work is not about me. I don't ever write about real people. That would be stealing, first of all. And second of all, art is supposed to be better than that. If you want a slice of life, look out the window. An artist has to look out that window, isolate one or two suggestive things, and embroider them together with poetry and fabrication, to create a revelation. If we can't, as artists, improve on real life, we should put down our pencils and go bake bread."

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 6 comments:

Holly B, July 4, 2012 (view all comments by Holly B)
Marvelous. Not quite the gut punch of The Poisionwood Bible, but Kingsolver delivers beautifully. She not only writes in an engaging fashion, but has an ability to show the beauty of other cultures in a way that demonstrates some of the poor choices and hypocrisy of our own, yet without any denigration. She really pulls you into the world in the pages in a way that makes you slowly digest the story, even if read quickly. I can't read her books too close together, since she gives so much food for thought. Great, great author. I am certain her books are tomorrow's classics.
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Branden Harris, May 20, 2012 (view all comments by Branden Harris)
Animal Dreams is the book I re-read every once in a while to remind myself how enjoyable reading can be. The main character can seem a little whiny at times, but that doesn't make her any less loveable.

My favorite book of all time. 5/5
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JaimeJRich, September 20, 2011 (view all comments by JaimeJRich)
Animal Dreams is my favorite book of all time. I picked it out from my Jr. High library (15 years ago) because of the colorful book cover, and I'm so glad it did, because Kingsolver and her protagonist actually inspired me to move to the desert, where I spent several idyllic years of my life. This is a book very much centered around it's setting -- a small town in Southern Arizona -- so if you have any fondness for the Tucson area, Native American & Hispanic border culture, and the magical beauty of the Southwest, you will probably enjoy the book based on this alone. The story centers around Cosima "Codi" Noline, a 30-something medical school dropout who we first see working in a 7-11. She is extremely close to her dynamic younger sister, Haley, a passionate humanitarian who is helping peasant revolutionaries in Central America. While Haley is off trying to save the world, Codi is drifting through her life aimlessly, unable to hold on to a real relationship or make goals for herself. She returns to her hometown to take care of her Alzheimer's-ridden father, and we see exactly why she's spent her whole adult life running away from things. Animal Dreams is a story of hope and forgiveness, and it's written beautifully. Barbara Kingsolver is a scientist with the soul of a poet.
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Product Details

Kingsolver, Barbara
Harper Perennial
Davidson, Diane Mott
by Barbara Kingsolver
New York :
Love stories
General Fiction
Domestic fiction
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade PB
Series Volume:
no. 643
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
from K to 4
9 x 6 x 1.09 in 17.42 oz
Age Level:
from 5 to 9

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Related Subjects

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Featured Titles » General
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
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Fiction and Poetry » Romance » General
History and Social Science » American Studies » Popular Culture

Animal Dreams Used Trade Paper
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Product details 368 pages Harper Perennial - English 9780060921149 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , In a combination of flashbacks, dreams, and Native American legends, the acclaimed author of The Bean Trees offers a suspenseful love story and a moving exploration of life's largest commitments. "Probes the human heart with uncommon wisdom".--New York Newsday.

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