by Barbara Kingsolver
I had forgotten how much I love reading this author. Her language is so rich, and precise. She\’s really got the details of what it\’s like being stuck at home all day with small children. I almost don\’t want to tell you what the book is about, because I didn\’t really know myself going in. So when I read the initial descriptions of the wonder of nature the main character Dellarobia finds in the woods above her family\’s farm, it was a beautiful puzzle to figure out what she was seeing before she figured it out herself. It\’s a finely crafted story. Dellarobia lives in rural Appalachia, kind of drifting through life, settling for less. She tends her two small children, chafes under her mother-in-law\’s criticism, and tolerates her endlessly patient, dull husband. She thinks of herself as stuck in a situation caused by an error made when she was younger- and is deliberately aiming to make another mistake that could ruin it all when she happens upon this wondrous thing up in the mountain. A discovery that might thwart her father-in-law\’s plans to log the hillside for some desperately-needed income. A discovery that draws strangers to their door- news reporters, sightseers, environmental activists and a scientist who opens her mind to the wider world. It\’s a story of family and community, of facing facts and changing perceptions. Very much about current issues, particularly climate change. Some might think it really heavy-handed with the environmental message, but I found it a perfect weight. Even though there are several long scenes where Dellarobia hashes out ideas and has long arguments- one with her husband, the other with her best friend- in public while shopping- so there are pages and pages of them going up and down the aisles, weaving their inspection of items on the shelf through their argument. Kind of odd.
And the ending made me sad. I was hoping that the main character would make a different decision, and not reveal it quite so abruptly to her young son… Regardless, I liked the book and it is one that will stick with me. If you want to go into it blind as I did- the first chapter is quite slow in building but worth it I think- then don\’t read most of the reviews I linked to below. Only the first avoids revealing the actual subject matter.
Rating: 4/5 436 pages, 2012