Animal Dreams

by Barbara Kingsolver

Hardcover, 1990

Collection

Publication

HarperCollins (1990), Edition: 1st, 342 pages

Description

"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.… (more)

Media reviews

Barbara Kingsolver is one of an increasing number of American novelists who are trying to rewrite the political, cultural and spiritual relationships between our country's private and public spheres.

User reviews

LibraryThing member tipsister
This book is about a woman in her 30's (I can relate) who has spent most of her adult like forgetting her past. The actual memories she does have, she doesn't quite believe in. She and her sister grew up in a strict home with their widowed father. He was the town doctor in a small town in Arizona and she never thought she fit in with the town. She later finds out that she is as much a part of the town as anyone else.

When her sister Hallie, who we only know through letters and memories, leaves for Nicaragua during the time of the Contras crisis, Codi decides to go back to her home town. Her main reason for going home is to see her father who is suffering from Alzheimer's. She accepts a job as the biology teacher at the high school and falls into a romance with Loyd, a man who she has a past with.

The story follows a year in Codi's life. She faithfully writes to her sister and occasionally visits her father. She becomes involved with a campaign to help save the town from an environmental pollutant. The biggest challenge she faces is finding her past. She begins to remember her life in the town of Grace and faces her future.

The book takes place in the mid 80's but is timely in its environmental tone. It all still fits! I was a little lost about the political issues in Nicaragua and Honduras because I was in middle and high school at the time. I was fairly unaware of big news at the time. I do recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Barbara Kingsolver. She's consistently good.
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LibraryThing member ThePortPorts
This is a wonderful book. It does what many stories try to do: it simply tells a person's life, a snippet of time in the grand scheme of things, and in the process touches on some larger truth. Something that helps a reader with a new perspective, a new thing to think about.

Many stories try to do this. Most fail to do it thoroughly.

But Animal Dreams does it. It is pierced through with sorrow and love and loss and growth, all wrapped up in one special town that most see as a place to move from. Many have left Grace; few return.

And yet Codi comes back, the prodigal daughter, suitcase heavy with fear, alienation, loneliness, and aimlessness. She is un-rooted, and tugged by memories she can and cannot remember. This is a story of finding oneself, of coming together inside your own skin. Of becoming.

Codi holds most of the pages, but some of the most devastating passages are from the few chapters told from her father's point of view. He is how she could be. How we all can be, if we feel but don't let it out, if we hide behind histories long past but still capable of wounding.

My favorite paragraph: "...people's dreams are made out of what they do all day. The same way a dog that runs after rabbits will dream of rabbits. It's what you do that makes your soul, not the other way around."

I'll be reading more Kingsolver.
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LibraryThing member wealhtheowwylfing
Codi returns to her hometown and has all the usual emotions and realizations. And she meets a hot Native American man who guides her spirit and has hot sex with her. And I believe she solves some sort of environmental mystery. Wish-fullfillment drek cloaked in "magical realism". Why was this assigned in high school?
LibraryThing member cameling
This was an amazing book about a woman who's been skating through life without really knowing what she wants out of it, and who's searching for her soul without knowing she's doing so. Her journey was amazing and it was thrilling to share it to such a wonderful end.
LibraryThing member ireed110
Codi Noline has spent her whole life feeling that she didn't belong, first at the urging of her father, and then at her own insistence. When she comes home to Grace, Arizona after her sister Hallie moves to Nicaragua (not to "save the world," but to follow what she hopes for - the "possibility that kids might one day grow up to be neihther the destroyers nor the destroyed"), she slips into her old, comfortable role of outsider. This story is about Codi finding out that she belongs.

I was quickly caught up in this story, and especially touched by the relationship between Codi and her father, described most eloquently with small intervals written in his point of view. Kingsolver succeeded in making Grace a real place that I could see in my own mind's eye, and understand as though I'd been there myself. There are several key relationship stories told in this novel - each has a role in bringing the main character to her new enlightenment.

There is real tragedy in this story, and the sadness it made me feel overwhelmed the positive. I'm not sure that was the intention of the author, but it serves to me as a reminder that we all need to take responsibility for our relationships with our loved ones and with our surroundings. Well done.
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LibraryThing member hockeycrew
Definitely not my favorite Kingsolver book, but good none the less. Perhaps I didn't enjoy it as much because I couldn't relate to the lost soul that is Codi.
LibraryThing member Naberius
I don't remember anymore how many times I have read this book. Every time I pick it up, it's like visiting with old friend - that's how good it is. Kingsolver's characters here are interesting and sympathetic, and I love how the setting is really a character all by itself. Also, the historical part of the story that weaves through the current parts of the story make it even more interesting. I love parts of the story, especially where Cody meets Loyd's family... and discovers bread. Ah yes, bread junkies unite!… (more)
LibraryThing member kay135
I connected with Animal Dreams so fast, so easily. It seemed as if the author knew me, and chose the right words to speak through her lead character. One of my very favorite books.
LibraryThing member mlake
I love this book! There is something about the descriptions of the heart and the liver...I wrote in my copy and keep going back and rereading my favorite parts.
LibraryThing member wordygirl39
It's been a long time since I read this book but when I did I remember putting it in my top ten. I'll have to re-read it soon.
LibraryThing member minnesotadebbie
Of all the Kingsolver books I've read, this is probably my least favorite, but even so it's a "good read." There are powerful images and fascinating descriptions, and I always find her science and environmental agenda fascinating. (I know this is not universal....) When she tells the story from the father's point of view, I am always touched. As Codi, though, I am sometimes less convinced. Maybe it's an attempt to show that one can't be both a detached observer and a participant in life. The sexy Indian boyfriend is some sort of "noble savage" stereotype I thought Kingsolver was above. All in all, while parts of the book work for me, and a few scenes are memorable, I'd say she has since developed greatly, both in her fiction and essays.… (more)
LibraryThing member ewalrath
I got this book for Jr. year accelerated English class. When (one of the) narrator(s) says "sisters are more precious than eyes" I understood exactly what she meant. And I've always loved New Mexico.
LibraryThing member t1bnotown
I very much enjoyed this book, but do not feel that I need to keep it with me. When I read it, I thought that the central issue was Codi's feelings of being disconnected. She never "nests" (creates a home atmosphere), she wanders from job to job never even intending to stay in most of them, and she's spent years living with someone with whom she feels no real connection. Her feelings of being disconnected begin with her relation to the town- her father felt disconnected for being part of the "bad" family below everyone else, so he tried to reverse it for his daughters, whom he told were above everyone else. This resulted in their feeling as disconnected as him, but in different ways. Another thing that contributes to Codi's feelings of disconnectedness is her miscarriage- she loses that thing she was connected to- the baby. The baby is also the product of one of the few connections she made in the town, to Lloyd, and losing it meant losing a link to him, a link to the outside, and a part of herself. Throughout all this she feels too isolated from everyone to even talk about her experience. The kind of experience she has had- a teenage prenancy- contributes to the problem. This is something that girls (especially special girls as she has been told she is) are not supposed to have. It is something that no one wants to talk about, and the fact that it has happened becomes one more brick in her barrier.

Her experience throughout the book is one of understanding her disconnection and reestablishing her connection. She reestablishes her connections when she takes an active interest in the town, gets to know people, and generally becomes involved. Finding the stones at the cemetary, the pictures of her and her sister, and putting the pieces together that her family is actually part of the town are equally important. Finally, establishing a meaningful, close relationship with Lloyd, multiple members of the town, and her father allows her to share the experience of her miscarriage with others. In the end she doesn't get on the plane to Colerado because she has finally found a home.
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LibraryThing member oldblack
I liked this book a lot. I was originally put off by reading that it was a book with a "political" story. Sure, it has political implications, but it's primarily a book about personal relationships, like Kingsolver's other books (the ones I've read, anyway). There are, however, multiple levels in the story, and the reader can choose to focus on the aspect which holds most interest. I found the father-daughter relationship to be of particular interest, because I am an aging, decaying father myself, but all the characters seemed quite real to me, notwithstanding the fact that I know nothing about native americans.… (more)
LibraryThing member chmessing
Another solid book from Barbara Kingsolver. She writes so convincingly with such detail about such a wide range of topics. Fascinating stuff.
LibraryThing member PrincessPaulina
So what exactly constitutes "chick lit"?
Is it a preoccupation with women's themes, a focus on relationships, a personal (in this case melancholy)writing tone?

Since "Animal Dreams" contains each of these elements, and seems unlikely to be read by very many straight men, it must be chic lit.
Yet while the chick lit label has a"fluffy" connotation, possibly due to its association with cheap romance novels, this is unfortunate because "Animal Dreams" is undoubtedly a well written and poignant book..

Kingslover has an elegant writing style, despite employing too many similes. Her characters are all multi-dimensional (though the protagonist's emotional issues may come across as whiny). Finally, the ecological theme sometimes felt forced, as if the author needed a more substantial topic to throw into the chick-lit mix. But despite some reservations, the story did tie nicely together in the end.
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LibraryThing member amariedorsey
An all-time favorite!
LibraryThing member jojosimco
Still my favourite of all her books, with Prodigal Summer and The Bean Trees coming in a close second. Love the heroine, love her father, and adore the romantic hero. My kind of guy.
LibraryThing member BookWorm4307
This is a true gem of a story. While I followed along with the story of Codi I found myself looking at my own life and what truth means to each individual. It is a woven embroidery of love, family, faith, truth, mystery, and so much more. It is captivating and inspiring. The main character Codi Noline takes an odyssey to find herself when she returns to her hometown Grace, Arizona and finds that she never had to go so far away to find the answers that she had longed for. Kingsolver does not disappoint.… (more)
LibraryThing member Crowyhead
Codi is a great character, full of contradictions and confusion.
LibraryThing member strandbooks
Although, not my favorite Barbara Kingsolver novel, I still enjoyed Animal Dreams. As always here characters were interesting and nature played an important role. The story revolves around Codi as she tries to find herself by returning to her eccentric Arizona hometown. A sub-plot centers on Codi's sister Halli, who moves to Nicaragua to help the farmers with their land. I really didn't know much about the contras or the american involvement so I appreciated that portion of the book even if it wasn't much detail.… (more)
LibraryThing member Katie_H
For me, the jury is still out on Kingsolver. While I did enjoy Animal Dreams, I haven't quite decided whether this is chick lit or something more substantial. Codi Noline hesitantly returned to her childhood home in Arizona to care for her ailing father. She thought she had been done with the place, so as she returned, she promised herself to leave within the year. Meanwhile, her beloved sister is headed to Nicaragua on a dangerous philanthropic mission. Codi rekindles the passion she had previously shared with Loyd Peregrina, an Apache trainman, and she is challenged to face the memories that she thought she'd hidden away forever. Kingsolver's characters are real, and the regional descriptions are extremely vivid; the reader gets a clear picture of the setting and is able to share the strong emotions that Codi experiences as she makes every attempt to find herself.… (more)
LibraryThing member Gingersnap000
The book was given to me by a dear friend who believed it would touch my soul and she was so correct! I cried at the end of the book because the characters of Codi and the entire town of Grace, AZ became my faux neighbors. Life in a small town where the majority of the population can trace their lineage back to a family of sisters who traveled from Spain to marry is way too confining for Codi and her Sister Halle who were outsiders and motherless. They were strangers in a strange land.

Codi has been running from the town of Grace since the day she left for college but now her father, Doc Homer needs her. Codi takes a job as a science teacher to be close to her father who is fighting dementia. The reader is swept into this novel of soul touching emotions by the characters and the landscape of Arizona.

I have the opportunity to travel to Arizona and even attended a wedding on a Native America reserve but never truly knew the history and traditions of the native americans of this state. Discovering the traditions of another culture be it in the United States or a foreign country makes a fascinating read for this LibraryThing member.

I find it extremely difficult to comprehend why readers found this book boring because it was complex, witty and full of love of the land and the human spirit.
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LibraryThing member bookfest
Typically for Kingsolver, this story wraps characters around environmental and related political issues. In this Cosima returns to her home town, planning to stay for a year working as the science teacher. She discovers that the river running through the town has been polluted by the mine, which dominates the town's economy. It is not Cosima alone who fights this battle. Charmingly, the local woman create their peacock feather pinatas and sell them as art work to fund a fight against the industrial powers. In the meanwhile, Cosima struggles in a relationship with her a Native American man who she had known in high school, with her aging domineering doctor father, and with concern for her sister, who has ventured off to Nicaragua to help the indigenous people survive in the midst of civil war.

Overall, this is somewhat easier reading than some of Kingsolver's other books and a bit less polemic than Prodigal Summer.
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LibraryThing member JenJ.
August 2008 COTC Book Club selection.

So sad, yet I wanted to know these people, these characters; I wanted to see the small town of Grace. Kingsolver's passion for the earth and for peace really shine through in this novel. I kept waiting for Codi to wake up and realize that she actually had it pretty great - a fabulous friend in Emelina, a new family in Loyd and his family, a meaningful job, a community she could care about and love. Not that these things could ever replace those she lost, but they make the loss far more bearable. Barbara Kingsolver really does amazing things with words.… (more)

Pages

342

ISBN

006016350X / 9780060163501

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