Review: Animal Dreams

Animal DreamsAnimal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Animal Dreams was full of great descriptions and florid prose that grabbed me right away and set the mood for the whole book. Kingsolver created settings that really let me feel I was there, walking the canyons of Arizona. Her imagery conveyed multiple meanings that unfolded throughout the story with call backs and ever-deepening layers.

The book was written in alternating perspectives. Most of the story was narrated by Cosima, a woman visiting a hometown she never felt at home in. Kingsolver expertly created an over-arching melancholy that clung both to the character and the story. I tend to slip quickly and easily into emotions with little prompting, so I usually steer clear of dramas in books and movies. But credit where credit is due, melancholy was an appropriate mood for the story and it was executed with masterful strokes.

The second perspective was Cosima’s ailing father, Homero. Afflicted with Alzheimer’s, Homero’s chapters offered an intriguing look into the mind of a man loosing touch with reality. The past and present collided and mingled as Homero tried to maintain the status quo despite his declining mental health.

There was a lot of tense shifting that often jarred me out of the story. I thought maybe this was intentional during Homero’s chapters because he was loosing his grip on reality and sliding between the past and present, but it continued through Cosima’s chapters too, and it made me pause every time it happened. The dialogue was fun, but sparse compared to the rambling exposition and internal monologue that made up most of the story.

I’ve become accustomed to the high-octane genre fiction that makes up most of my reading list these days. Animal Dreams wasn’t so much a page-turner as a relaxed amble that never-the-less kept me coming back for more. There were times, especially toward the beginning, where the backstory descriptions would drag on and I’d find myself zoning out, but the characters were engaging enough to keep me invested in the story regardless. If you’re looking for a book of quiet contemplation about life and the human search for belonging, this is an excellent choice.

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