Sunday, December 5, 2010

Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver

I could not fall asleep the other night so I took the time to finish this book, which happens to have been sitting by my bed 2/3rds of the way read since August. To be honest, it is not Kingsolver at her best. Pigs in Heaven is the sequel to Bean Trees, which I read on the plane to Brazil a year and a half ago. The story seemed solid at first, but the ending felt forced, like it was not really what the characters wanted to do. Maybe Turtle and Taylor should never have left Arizona in the first place.

Part of the reason I like reading Kingsolver's books is because I distinctly remember the people who suggested I read them and who I passed the books off to in turn. I grabbed The Poisonwood Bible from a friend's apartment three summers ago and read it in 36 hours because I could not put it down. This summer I found a copy of it at the library used book sale and bought it for a quarter to give to my grandmother. A camp counselor told me to read Bean Trees when I was 15, but I didn't pick it up until I saw it at a used book store a week before I left for Brazil. I left my copy in Brazil with Rahel, the German Ph.d candidate we helped with field research, because she wanted something to read that was in English. I read Animal Dreams last year on the way to California with my mom. I gave it to her when I was finished. She liked it so much that she bought Pigs in Heaven and then passed it along to me. Last April, I walked into an apartment to see a friend reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle for a final paper. I mentioned that I would like to read it, and she told me to come back in two days and she would give it to me.

When I think about the cycle of getting and giving Kingsolver's books, I am reminded of the very different people in my life. Some are still a presence; others I have not talked to in years. Regardless, it makes me think about the network to which I belong when I realize how a suggestion from a counselor at Camp Marymount led to a book being given to a German student living in Brazil six years later. It is just one of those things that makes me pause.

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