By Barbara Kingsolver
Published by Harper,9780063251922, Oct 2022, 560 pp
The Short of It:
Not sure what I expected when I picked this one up but the characters have stayed with me.
The Rest of It:
Demon Copperhead had been on my list for a very long time but it never seemed like the right time to read it. It’s lengthy and deals with some heavy topics but then my book club selected it for April so there I was with my copy, eagerly reading and flipping those pages.
Inspired by a trip Kingsolver took to visit the actual Bleak House of Charles Dicken’s fame, the story of Demon Copperhead unspooled from there. Set in the mountains of southern Appalachia, Demon is born to a single, teenaged mother with a drug addiction. They don’t have much. His mother barely makes a living and all they have is the single-wide trailer they call home. The story is peppered with well-meaning neighbors and friends. They are all quite the characters.
Demon’s relentless resilience gets him through many heartaches and challenges, but the need for a home, a real home is what drives him forward and unfortunately in this quest, he is repeatedly disappointed. Disappointed with the people around him, the people in charge of his care, the school system, the labor force. How is a young man supposed to make a living without selling his soul to the Devil?
The setting of this novel hints at destruction at every turn of the page. Appalachia is known for its drug trade and it ‘s hard to not be a party to it when you’re a hungry kid just trying to survive. Demon encounters many people and some of those people he holds dear but the constant need to uproot everything he has to move on the next thing affects his long-term relationships. It’s honestly heartbreaking.
I enjoyed this book. I enjoyed the characters a lot but it was about 75 pages too long for me. The drug details are very realistic in the telling. I still think it will make my Fave list for the end of the year but it’s not the kind of book you can read alongside others. I found that out the hard way. It’s gritty but in between the grit I did detect hope which is what kept me reading.
Have you read it?
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