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Avg. Rating: 3.5
Moving, heart-warming tale...
I have come to be a big fan of Barbara Kingsolver, and Pigs in Heaven is one of her most moving and endearing books. This book is actually a sequel to The Bean Tree, and the story centers on Taylor Greer and her adopted Cherokee daughter, Turtle.
The Greer's have a life-changing experience while visiting Hoover Dam. Turtle sees a man fall off the dam, but nobody but Taylor believes her. When a man is finally rescued, Taylor and Turtle end up on the Oprah Winfrey Show. The legality of Turtle's adoption becomes an issue when a Cherokee lawyer happens to see the program and starts asking questions. Pigs in Heaven debates many difficult issues involved in any adoption including what is best for the adoptive mother, the birth family and most of all, the child. But there are also other delicate problems such as what is best for the tribe, and what obligation does a white mother owe an adopted Native American child. There are no easy answers.
My one complaint about Pigs in Heaven is that there is a major coincidence that seems a bit unbelievable (I won't tell for fear of spoiling the story). But I forgive Kingsolver this indiscretion for the beautiful prose to be found here, as well as the heart-warming ending. Most of Kingsolver's characters are short on book learning, but are keen observers of the world around them. Some of my favorites include:
On parenting, "it's the one job where, the better you are, the more surely you won't be needed in the long run."
About women's friendships, "Sympathizing over the behavior of men is the baking soda of women's friendships, it seems, the thing that makes them bubble and rise."
Or while complaining about men who refuse to talk, "I think Roscoe used up his whole vocabulary when he asked me to marry him. All that's left now is `Where's it at?' and `When's dinner?'"
Even Kingsolver's chapter titles are priceless. The two about Las Vegas are called "The Twilight Zone of Humanity" and "The Church of Risk and Hope."
I haven't read a Kingsolver yet that I didn't like, and have Prodigal Summer waiting in the wings.
The first time I read The Bean Trees I was immediately attached to the young Cherokee, Turtle. I admit that I was hesitant to read Pigs in Heaven. I didn't want to be disappointed. After reading it I was relieved, while it is not as good as The Bean Trees, Pigs in Heaven did not let me down. It kept me attached to Turtle and her interactions and relationships between others. If you have read The Bean Trees and found yourself completely moved by it, I would recommend you to continue your reading through Pigs in Heaven. Nothing is ever as good as the first, but Kingsolver impressed me by writing a sequel that was truly impressive.
It Doesn't Get Better Than This!
Pigs in Heaven is the type of book that you must own just so you can touch it every now and then, just so you can let the pages fall open where they will so you can sample even a paragraph of Kingsolver's brilliant lyrical style.
A sequel to The Bean Trees but a full novel unto itself, this is the continuation of the story of Taylor Greer and her adopted Cherokee daughter Turtle, the abused child given to Taylor in a parking lot some 3 years earlier. Now fully bonded as mother and child, Taylor and Turtle are living a happy iconoclastic life as only Kingsolver can describe. Turtle has come far from her earlier trauma, although not completely healed. And Taylor's fierce adoration of her child cannot be disputed.
Through a series of unbelievable events, Taylor and Turtle appear on the Oprah show, and catch the eye of Cherokee lawyer-activist Anawake Fourkiller, who immediately determines that she must wrest the child from her non-Indian mother and return her to the fold of the Tribe. On the face of it, Anawake seems the enemy and Taylor and Turtle her victims. But nothing is as it seems. With the addition of such unforgettable characters as Taylor's irrascible mother Alice, plus a real-life Barbie doll cum waitress who latches on to the family and won't let go, and the various tribal members, this is a book rich in meaning, deep in thought, and brimming with human truth that transcends all barriers, racial or otherwise.
And that, of course, is the point.
If you have not read Kingsolver before, start with this brilliant offering. You won't be sorry. She is a voice not to be missed.
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