Pigs in Heaven

Pigs in Heaven

by Barbara Kingsolver


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A deeply felt novel of love despite the risks, of tearing apart & coming together, Pigs in Heaven travels the roads from rural Kentucky & the urban Southwest to Heaven, Oklahoma, & the Cherokee Nation. Along the way it introduces a vivid cast of characters. When 6-year-old Turtle Greer witnesses a freak accident at the Hoover Dam, her insistence on what she has seen & her mothers belief in her lead to a mans dramatic rescue. But Turtles moment of celebrity draws her into a conflict of historic proportions. The crisis quickly envelops Turtle, her mother, & everyone else who touches their lives in a complex web.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060922535
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 11/28/2003
Series: Harper Perennial
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.82(d)
Lexile: 910L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Barbara Kingsolver’s books of fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction are widely translated and have won numerous literary awards. She is the founder of the PEN/Bellwether Prize, and in 2000 was awarded the National Humanities Medal, the country’s highest honor for service through the arts. Prior to her writing career she studied and worked as a biologist. She lives with her husband on a farm in southern Appalachia.

Date of Birth:

April 8, 1955

Place of Birth:

Annapolis, Maryland


B.A., DePauw University, 1977; M.S., University of Arizona, 1981

Read an Excerpt

Queen of Nothing

Women on their own run in Alice's family. This dawns on her with the unkindness of a heart attack and she sits up in bed to get a closer look at her thoughts, which have collected above her in the dark.

It's early morning, April, windless, unreasonably hot even at this sun-forsaken hour. Alice is sixty-one. Her husband, Harland, is sleeping like a brick and snoring. To all appearances they're a satisfied couple sliding home free into their golden years, but Alice knows that's not how it's going to go. She married him two years ago for love, or so she thought, and he's a good enough man but a devotee of household silence. His idea of marriage is to spray WD-40 on anything that squeaks. Even on the nights when he turns over and holds her, Harland has no words for Alice--nothing to contradict all the years she lay alone, feeling the cold seep through her like cave air, turning her breasts to limestone from the inside out. This marriage has failed to warm her. The quiet only subsides when Harland sleeps and his tonsils make up for lost time. She can't stand the sight of him there on his back, driving his hogs to market. She's about to let herself out the door.

She leaves the bed quietly and switches on the lamp in the living room, where his Naugahyde recliner confronts her, smug as a catcher's mitt, with a long, deep impression of Harland running down its center. On weekends he watches cable TV with perfect vigilance, as if he's afraid he'll miss the end of the world--though he doesn't bother with CNN, which, if the world did end, is where the taped footage would run. Harland prefers the Home Shopping Channel because he can follow it with the sound turned off.

She has an edgy sense of being watched because of his collection of antique headlights, which stare from the china cabinet. Harland runs El-Jay's Paint and Body and his junk is taking over her house. She hardly has the energy to claim it back. Old people might marry gracefully once in a while, but their houses rarely do. She snaps on the light in the kitchen and shades her eyes against the bright light and all those ready appliances.

Her impulse is to call Taylor, her daughter. Taylor is taller than Alice now and pretty and living far away, in Tucson. Alice wants to warn her that a defect runs in the family, like flat feet or diabetes: they're all in danger of ending up alone by their own stubborn choice. The ugly kitchen clock says four-fifteen. No time-zone differences could make that into a reasonable hour in Tucson; Taylor would answer with her heart pounding, wanting to know who'd dropped dead. Alice rubs the back of her head, where her cropped gray hair lies flat in several wrong directions, prickly with sweat and sleeplessness. The cluttered kitchen irritates her. The Formica countertop is patterned with pink and black loops like rubber bands lying against each other, getting on her nerves, all cocked and ready to spring like hail across the kitchen. Alice wonders if other women in the middle of the night have begun to resent their Formica. She stares hard at the telephone on the counter, wishing it would ring. She needs some proof that she isn't the last woman left on earth, the surviving queen of nothing. The clock gulps softly, eating seconds whole while she waits; she receives no proof.

She stands on a chair and rummages in the cupboard over the refrigerator for a bottle of Jim Beam that's been in the house since before she married Harland. There are Mason jars up there she ought to get rid of. In her time Alice has canned tomatoes enough for a hundred bomb shelters, but now she couldn't care less, nobody does. If they drop the bomb now, the world will end without the benefit of tomato aspic. She climbs down and pours half an inch of Jim Beam into a Bengals mug that came free with a tank of gas. Alice would just as soon get her teeth cleaned as watch the Bengals. That's the price of staying around when your heart's not in it, she thinks. You get to be cheerleader for a sport you never chose. She unlatches the screen door and steps barefoot onto the porch.

The sky is a perfect black. A leftover smile of moon hides in the bottom branches of the sugar maple, teasing her to smile back. The air isn't any cooler outside the house, but being outdoors in her sheer nightgown arouses Alice with the possibility of freedom. She could walk away from this house carrying nothing. How those glass eyeballs in the china cabinet would blink, to see her go. She leans back in the porch swing, missing the squeak of its chains that once sang her baby to sleep, but which have been oppressed into silence now by Harland's WD-40. Putting her nose deep into the mug of bourbon, she draws in sweet, caustic fumes, just as she used to inhale tobacco smoke until Taylor made her quit.

She raised a daughter in this house and planted all the flowers in the yard, but that's nothing to hold her here. Flowers you can get tired of. In the record heat of this particular Kentucky spring the peonies have blown open their globes a month ahead of Memorial Day. Their face-powder scent reminds her of old women she knew in childhood, and the graveyard. She stops swinging a minute to listen: a huffling sound is coming from the garden. Hester Biddle's pigs. Hester lives a short walk down the road and has taken up raising Vietnamese miniature potbellied pigs for a new lease on life after her stroke. She claims they're worth two thousand per pig, but Alice can't imagine on what market. They're ugly as sin and run away for a hobby, to root in Alice's peony beds. "Go on home," Alice says in a persuasive voice. The pigs look up.

"I mean it," she says, rising from the porch swing, her hands on her hips. "I'm not above turning you all into bacon."

In the dim light from the kitchen their eyes glow red. Pigs are turning out to be the family curse: Alice's mother, a tall, fierce woman named Minerva Stamper, ran a hog farm alone for fifty years. Alice picks up an empty flowerpot from the porch step and throws it at the pigs. The darkness absorbs it. She throws a dirt clod and a pair of pruning shears, which also vanish. Then a medium-sized aluminum bowl. Harland ordered the Cornucopia Of Bowls from the shopping channel for their wedding anniversary, so now their home has a bowl for every purpose. She picks up another one and gives it a fling. She'll have to pick them up in the morning, in front of God and the Biddles, but she wants those pigs out of her life. She finds a galvanized watering can and lifts herself on the balls of her feet, testing her calves. Alice is in good shape, despite her age; when she concentrates she can still find all her muscles from the inside. When her first husband left her the house fell apart but she and her daughter held up well, she thinks, everything considered.

She heaves the watering can but can't tell where it's gone. It lands with a ding--possibly it struck a member of the Cornucopia. The red pig eyes don't even blink. Alice feels defeated. She returns to the porch to collect her losses.

She's not walking away from here. Who would take her in? She knows most of the well-to-do women in town, from cleaning their houses all the years she was raising Taylor, but their respect for Alice is based on what she could tell the world about their basements. On Fridays, Alice plays poker with Fay Richey and Lee Shanks--cheerful, husky-voiced women who smoke a lot and are so thankful to still be married, if she left Harland they'd treat her like she had a virus. Minerva and the hog farm are both gone, of course, the one simply dead and buried, the other sold to pay its own debts. It depresses Alice deeply to think how people's lives and all other enterprises, like life insurance, can last long enough to cancel themselves out.

A mockingbird lands on the tip of a volunteer mulberry that has grown up through the hedge. Flapping to stay balanced, he makes the long branch bob and sway like a carnival ride. His little profile flails against a horizon the color of rising dough. In the few minutes it took Alice to make an accounting of her life, dawn was delivered to this address and the automatic spotlight on Biddles' barn winked off. No matter what kind of night you're having, morning always wins.

The mockingbird springs off his mulberry branch into darkness and then materializes up on the roof, crowing to this section of the county that her TV antenna is his and his alone. Something about the male outlook, Alice thinks, you have got to appreciate. She stands with her arms crossed against her chest and observes the dark universe of the garden, which is twinkling now with aluminum meteorites. She hears the pigs again. It's no wonder they like to come here; they get terrified down at Biddles' when Henry uses more machinery than he needs. Yesterday he was using the hay mower to cut his front yard, which is typical. The poor things are just looking for a home, like the Boat People. She has a soft spot for refugees and decides to let them stay. It will aggravate Hester, who claims that every time they eat Alice's peonies they come home with diarrhea.

Copyright © 1994 by Barbara Kingsolver.

Table of Contents

Reading Group Guide

Plot Summary

We don't think of ourselves as having extended families. We look at you guys and think you have contracted families.
- Annawake Fourkiller in Pigs in Heaven

"Women on their own run in Alice's family." So thinks Alice Greer, sixty-one years old, as she is about to leave her second husband, Harland; and the novel appears to offer no argument against this. She, her daughter Taylor, and Taylor's informally adopted daughter, Turtle, all seem fated to lives uncomplicated by relationships with men. But simplicity is gone forever when Taylor and Turtle (who is Cherokee) appear on TV by a coincidence of fate, and come to the attention of Annawake Fourkiller, a lawyer for the Cherokee nation. Taylor finds herself in a conflict between her own and what she thinks of as Turtle's best interests, and those of the tribe. Citing the Indian Welfare Act, which states that all adoptions of Native American children must be authorized by their tribes, Annawake detrmines to try to invalidate Turtle's adoption. Meanwhile, fearing that she will lose her daughter, Taylor takes Turtle and flees Arizona, leaving behind her devoted boyfriend, Jax. Along the way to resolution of this seemingly irresolvable conflict, many lives are changed.

-1993 Los Angeles Book Award for Fiction
-1994 Mountain and Plains Booksellers Association Award

Kingsolver on Pigs in Heaven:
"Every book I write begins with a question. With Pigs in Heaven the question had to do with ideas of community and individualism, and how we can integrate those very different -- sometimes even antagonistic--senses ofvalue. Living in the West, I've seen many real-life cases of Native American kids who've been taken outside their tribes to be raised by non-native parents, and whose tribes later want them brought back. The way these cases are played out in the media is very telling. The mainstream media focus on the adoptive mother and child; that's a holy icon, literally, in our culture. The news stories ask, how can it be in the best interest of this child to lose its children? When you think about it, those questions are coming from very different assumptions about what is most important in this world. What's best for the individual? What's best for the group? Those questions seem to pass each other in the air. I began to wonder if there was any point of intersection in that dialogue. I decided to try to write a story that would compel you to think, and laugh, and really love both sides of that particular fight.

For additonal copies, contact your local bookseller.

Topics for Discussion
1. When Annawake first meets Taylor, she states the book's central problem this way: "There's the child's best interest and the tribe's best interest, and I'm trying to think of both things." What is Turtle's best interest -- in Taylor's view? in the tribe's view? in your view? Did the book change the way you might respond to such a case if you read about it in the newspaper? Do you think the events of the novel relate at all to the complexities of interethnic adoptions in general? Particularly in a racist society?

2. What motivates Taylor when she runs away? What motivates Annawake's pursuit of Taylor? How do you feel about these two women? In what ways are they similar? How do they change, and why?

3. Talking to Annawake, Jax poses the question: "How can you belong to a tribe, and be your own person, at the same time? You can't. If you're verifiably one, you're not the other." (chp. 15, "Communion"). Are there ways to reconcile the claims of individuality and those of the group? Does the novel suggest any of them? What does Alice discover, for instance, during the stomp dance (in Chp. 26, "Old Flame")? How do the values of the Cherokee community described here differ from those of dominant U.S. culture, particularly around this question of community vs. individualism?

4. The novel seems to suggest that cultural emphasis on independence, mobility, and self-reliance can lead to loneliness and alienation. How do individual characters -- Alice, Barbie, Rose, Cash, Taylor, Jax -- reflect this view of independence as isolation? Do you agree with the novel's judgement? How have you, or people you know about, been affected by the cultural celebration of "self-reliance?" Do you think men and women relate differently to this cultural value?

5. In explaining why it's important for the tribe to get Turtle back, Annawake tells Alice, "We've been through a holocaust as devastating as what happened to the Jews, and we need to keep what's left of our family together" (Chp. 27, "Family Stories"). How does the novel go about demonstrating the validity of this comparison? How do you feel about it? How should people living today deal with histories of oppression?

6. The title, Pigs in Heaven , refers to the Cherokee legend about the six bad boys that got turned into pigs before their mother's eyes. Annawake tells this story -- in two entirely different ways -- on page 87 and again on page 313. How does this story, in its two versions, demonstrate the book's theme, and Annawake's growth? In what other ways do pigs enter the story, as symbols of renegade individualism and community spirit?

7. How -- physically and spiritually -- does povery affect people's lives? How does poverty affect Taylor? Does this novel offer a judgement on poor people? On our society's attitudes towards poor people?

8. The novel is divided into three sections: Spring, Summer, and Fall, written in English and Cherokee. What significance for you is there in the fact that the novel is structured according to the cycles of nature, ending during harvest, just short of winter?

9. When Cash shoots his TV at the end, it's a rather complex image. If you think about the other scenes in which TVs and TV-watching figure, or how TV may be said to function in the U.S. culture at large, what possible meanings might his gesture have?

10. Occasionally, readers have felt that Kingsolver's heroines and endings are idealized -- that is, too good to be true. How do you feel about this criticism? First of all, would you agree that this is so in Pigs in Heaven ? Second, do you think that good fiction ought not to idealize its characters or situations?

About the Author: Barbara Kingsolver was born on April 8, 1955. She grew up "in the middle of an alfalfa field," in the part of eastern Kentucky that lies between the opulent horse farms and the impoverished coal fields. While her family has deep roots in the region, she never imagined staying there herself. "The options were limited--grow up to be a farmer or a farmer's wife."

Kingsolver has always been a storyteller: "I used to beg my mother to let me tell her a bedtime story." As a child, she wrote stories and essays and, beginning at the age of eight, kept a journal religiously. Still, it never occurred to Kingsolver that she could become a professional writer. Growing up in a rural place, where work centered mainly on survival, writing didn't seem to be a practical career choice. Besides, the writers she read, she once explained, "were mostly old, dead men. It was inconceivable that I might grow up to be one of those myself . . . "

Kingsolver left Kentucky to attend DePauw University in Indiana, where she majored in biology. She also took one creative writing course, and became active in the last anti-Vietnam War protests. After graduating in 1977, Kingsolver lived and worked in widely scattered places. In the early eighties, she pursued graduate studies in biology and ecology at the University of Arizona in Tucson, where she received a Masters of Science degree. She also enrolled in a writing class taught by author Francine Prose, whose work Kingsolver admires.

Kingsolver's fiction is rich with the language and imagery of her native Kentucky. But when she first left home, she says, "I lost my accent . . . [P]eople made terrible fun of me for the way I used to talk, so I gave it up slowly and became something else." During her years in school and two years spent living in Greece and France she supported herself in a variety of jobs: as an archaeologist, copy editor, X-ray technician, housecleaner, biological researcher and translator of medical documents. After graduate school, a position as a science writer for the University of Arizona soon led her into feature writing for journals and newspapers. Her numerous articles have appeared in a variety of publications, including The Nation, The New York Times, and Smithsonian, and many of them are included in the collection, High Tide in Tucson: Essays from Now or Never. In 1986 she won an Arizona Press Club award for outstanding feature writing, and in 1995, after the publication of High Tide in Tucson, Kingsolver was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from her alma mater, De Pauw University.

Kingsolver credits her careers in scientific writing and journalism with instilling in her a writer's discipline and broadening her "fictional possiblities." Describing herself as a shy person who would generally prefer to stay at home with her computer, she explains that "journalism forces me to meet and talk with people I would never run across otherwise."

From 1985 through 1987, Kingsolver was a freelance journalist by day, but she was writing fiction by night. Married to a chemist in 1985, she suffered from insomnia after becoming pregnant the following year. Instead of following her doctor's recommendation to scrub the bathroom tiles with a toothbrush, Kingsolver sat in a closet and began to write The Bean Trees, a novel about a young woman who leaves rural Kentucky (accent intact) and finds herself living in urban Tucson.

The Bean Trees, published by HarperCollins in 1988, and reissued in a special ten-year anniversary hardcover edition in 1998, was enthusiastically received by critics. But, perhaps more important to Kingsolver, the novel was read with delight and, even, passion by ordinary readers. "A novel can educate to some extent," she told Publishers Weekly. "But first, a novel has to entertain--that's the contract with the reader: you give me ten hours and I'll give you a reason to turn every page. I have a commitment to accessiblity. I believe in plot. I want an English professor to understand the symbolism while at the same time I want the people I grew up with--who may not often read anything but the Sears catalogue--to read my books."

For Kingsolver, writing is a form of political activism. When she was in her twenties she discovered Doris Lessing. "I read the Children of Violence novels and began to understand how a person could write about the problems of the world in a compelling and beautiful way. And it seemed to me that was the most important thing I could ever do, if I could ever do that."

The Bean Trees was followed by the collection, Homeland and Other Stories (1989), the novels Animal Dreams (1990), and Pigs in Heaven (1993), and the bestselling High Tide in Tucson: Essays from Now and Never (1995). Kingsolver has also published a collection of poetry, Another America: Otra America (Seal Press, 1992, 1998), and a nonfiction book, Holding the Line: Women in the Great Arizona Mine Strike of l983 (ILR Press/Cornell University Press, 1989, 1996). Her most recent work is The Poisonwood Bible, a story of the wife and four daughters of a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. A tale of one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction, over the course of three decades in post-colonial Africa, The Poisonwood Bible is set against one of history's most dramatic political parables. It is a compelling exploration of religion, conscience, imperialist arrogance and the many paths to redemption?and Barbara Kingsolver's most ambitious work ever.

Barbara Kingsolver presently lives outside of Tucson with her husband Steven Hopp, and her two daughters, Camille from a previous marriage, and Lily, who was born in 1996. When not writing or spending time with her family, Barbara gardens, cooks, hikes, works as an environmental activist and human-rights advocate, and plays hand drums and keyboards with her husband, guitarist, Steven Hopp.

Given that Barbara Kingsolver's work covers the psychic and geographical territories that she knows firsthand, readers often assume that her work is autobiographical. "There are little things that people who know me might recognize in my novels," she acknowledges. "But my work is not about me. I don't ever write about real people. That would be stealing, first of all. And second of all, art is supposed to be better than that. If you want a slice of life, look out the window. An artist has to look out that window, isolate one or two suggestive things, and embroider them together with poetry and fabrication, to create a revelation. If we can't, as artists, improve on real life, we should put down our pencils and go bake bread."

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Pigs in Heaven 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 95 reviews.
Adrian Sloan More than 1 year ago
Loved this book as much as I did Bean Trees!
EmiliaBartelheim More than 1 year ago
Pigs in Heaven is a book I was really not looking forward to read at all. I chose it for the theme, and going into this I was dreading reading it, as there's nothing worse than having to read a really bad book, but I came out of it with a book that I can definitely call one of my favourites now. The real story begins with Taylor Greer on a sort of soul searching trip with her adoptive daughter, Turtle, a six year old girl Taylor was just handed three years earlier. They visit the Hoover Dam, and Turtle witnesses a near death, which lands them in the public eye for saving a man's life. It brings attention to Turtle's heritage, a void adoption, and a sudden battle to sort a girl into one of two cultures under what each think her best interests would be. Along the way, they meet strange characters, both for their gain and detriment, and the story not only follows them but a variety of characters all centered around the same plot. The relationships of every individual character that Kingsolver rotates through each chapter, and the development of their lives in relation to each other, highlights the actuality of personality in comparison to one's perception of themselves and the continuous segregation of culture and races in modern times. I can't really think of anything I didn't like about the book. The voice was really well executed, and the story line unlike anything I've read before. Somewhat educational, and research was obviously done to write the novel. One should read this book not for any particular reason than to read. It could aid in perhaps gaining a better understanding of modern segregation, but it's no history lesson. And although I tend to gravitate towards the 'New Science Fiction' section of the bookstores I frequent, there is a timeless quality that some books seem to have, this included, where you're not focusing on how it shallowly relates to your own life. You just read it.
sawyierlady More than 1 year ago
Kingsolver weaves the characters into a story that is unforgetable, building on culture of the localities involved. Great reading for pleasure and learning about differences.
steach More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful follow-up to The Bean Trees! With Turtle finally settled with her "adoptive" mom, Taylor, officials from the Cherokee nation threaten her security. Taylor flees Tuscon, trying to make a safe home for Turtle, but she cannot run away from her sense of responsibility for Turtle's heritage. While swept away in this wonderful novel, I also found myself learning things about the history of Native Americans, and the horrible treatment they received from the white culture. An amazing book that I wanted to go on and on. Any chance of a sequel?
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think this is a really good story for people who usually don't read. Its easy to follow the more you get into it. It's kind of sad at first and then at the end it all comes together to be a really good novel. I don't really read much but I couldn't put this book down. It had intresting characters in the story that you become to like because of how they handle certain situations. This is a really good book to read if you like to know a little about the Cherokee culture.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was much better than the first book 'The Bean Tree' it has drama, action and keeps your interest page after page. Barbara Kingslover did a wonderful job.This is a must read book.
oldblack on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another fine Kingsolver story. I initially avoided reading her books, despite recommendations from people I kind-of knew! The reason I avoided them was that they sounded too heavily laden with socio-political messages, and I don't read fiction to be preached at. However, what I've found is that this author is remarkably skillful in creating characters and situations with which I could identify and become emotionally involved, despite their apparent distance from my own situation. This story is a classic example. The obvious target audience groups are mothers and native americans, and to neither of which do I belong. Kingsolver sets up a story of Cherokee versus mother, but she does it in such a way that this reader felt equally drawn to both sides. The justice of both the mother's position and the Indian's position is made evident and we can't see how this can resolve satisfactorily. Of course the conclusion doesn't have to be completely satisfactory, because life isn't like that, but nonetheless, Kingsolver's ultimate message is that love does have the power to take us beyond motherhood or genetic ancestry. Yes, the last couple of chapters did move me to tears, but I'm that sort of person I guess. It definitely helped, but wasn't essential, to read "The Bean Trees" first. This was especially true because it set up the (geographic) landscape for me, a non-American. That landscape (both urban and rural) and the way it affects the people's lives is a major issue in these books, I think.
Kace on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
ok, I'm rereading this now. Bean Trees and this one, the books I fell in love with in High School. I had it "reviewed" on here before, but think I was on crack or something, cause it only had 2 stars...yeah, it's clearly not that, not then and not now.Kingsolvers voice for me is what made the two mentioned books so involving for me. The characters were real and haunting, and I've spent years thinking about the characters, though not obsessively so, because that would be crazy, but in the way that I compare books. For years after reading Bean Trees, and the better Pigs in Heaven, I searched in vain for authors that had Kingsolvers way with pen. Alas it was to no avail. Not even Kingsolver compared with her various other stories. Of course, now I've found some I love and return to again and again. The joys of obsessive reading.
samsheep on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Re-reading this after many years - I had forgotten how utterly lovely it was. Magical and uplifting. Barbara Kingsolver is endlessly wonderful....
gillis.sarah on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
While I didn't like this book as much as I enjoyed its prequel ('The Bean Trees'), it was nice to continue with the story of Turtle and learn a bit more about her. She gets a lot more interesting as a character in this book. I also found how I felt about the legal and emotional struggle between Turtle's adopted mother and her tribe very interesting.
mashley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A bit predictable, but good characters.
readingrat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
While it had the same likable characters returning from the Bean Trees and was definitely an enjoyable read, this book fell a little short when it came to capturing the magic its predecessor had.
jayne_charles on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Brilliant, brilliant book. It starts off with a startling array of niceness - nice family, nice lifestyle, a miasma of likeability. The boyfriend in particular is way too good to be true (he actually invites his girlfriend's mother to come and live with them, and appears to welcome the prospect. Blokes like that don't exist outside of fiction). The reason for all this likeability becomes clear when it emerges that this book centres around a tug-of-love situation, and ensures that we don't know which side to sympathise with.Some skilfuly dropped clues ensure that the reader is always one step ahead of the characters and anticipating the next step, and good pacing ensures that it is a while before they catch up, so the suspense is ensured. Like all the other books I have read by this author, the research is thorough without weighing down the plot, and it is compelling, humorous and informative.I had no idea that this was part of a series, but upon finishing it I discovered 'The Bean Trees' in a second hand shop and found out that it was a prequel to this one, so guess what I read next.
laurie_library on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The author is a wonderful storyteller. The stomp dance scene came alive for me.
snash on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found this book fun to read with a host of memorable, entertaining characters, most of of whom I liked. It dealt with a difficult dilemma which was perhaps too neatly solved but it made me happy.
silviastraka on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the sequel to the Bean Trees. Turtle, as a result of a rescue publicized on national TV, is identified as the lost child of a Cherokee band. (Taylor had adopted Turtle, who had been thrust at her by the mother at a truck stop, who then disappeared). The fudged adoption comes to light and the novel focuses on the competing claims as to where Turle belongs. On the one side isTaylor, the white mother, who did not seek to scoop a Native child, but was herself very young and inexperienced when the child was given to her. Taylor has been an exemplary mother and there is a strong and healthy bond between her and Turtle. On the other side is the Cherokee band, whose lawyer lays out the multitude of reasons why Turtle belongs with her people. Kingsolver does an excellent job in showing the validity of the claims of both sides. But the child cannot be sawed into half. The novel is the story of the conflict and its resolution, which turned out to be too convenient and facile -- creating an "everybody wins" scenario. This is the one aspect of this book I dislike. Other than that, I adore Kingsolver's writing and these characters.I read this book a couple of years before I moved to Manitoba, with its large Indigenous population and its history of systematically taking Indigenous kids away from their parents. Since I am a social work educator, this is an important issue for me to grasp and I found that Kingsolver's novel helped me to gain some insight into why it is so important for these children to remain in their communities.
butterflybaby on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I liked this book. I felt that it was political spin off from the Bean Trees. Taylor and Turtle explore moral and legal issues. Just like the first book Pigs in Heaven really brought the characters to life and was interesting. I would recomend this book.
angela.vaughn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Turtle books are some of the sweetest. They pull at your heart strings and really draw you in. Kingsolver has a way with different cultures and sheding light on the customs and people so that even the simplist of people can understand what both sides are trying to bring to the table.
lycomayflower on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am always struck by how good Kingsolver is when I start one of her books. I don't know why I forget this in between. In all of Kingsolver's books that I have read she does a great job depicting women and women's community (something I am often impatient with but which rings absolutely true for me in her books), and in Pigs in Heaven the juggling of multiple character points of view and of multiple ways of seeing the world--and the way the reader is made to empathize with all of them--is particularly well done.
wordygirl39 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The sequel to the Bean Trees continues the story of Taylor and Turtle, but this book feels richer, more layered. It looks closely at a difficult issue still important in America today: Should we look the other way at cross-cultural adoption if the child will be cared for and loved? Does culture and etnicity matter more than love?
lamericaana on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Read this ages ago, don't remember what it's about, but I remember loving it and it turned me on to Barbara Kingsolver (a wonderful thing). Maybe I'll have to go back and re-read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pigs in Heaven, the sequel to The Bean Trees, is a great book to read. It keeps you on your toes and wanting to know what happens next. Taylor has very interesting and unique relationships with her daughter Turtle, her mother Alice, and her boyfriend Jax. They aren’t the “typical” relationships but that’s what made it such an amazing book. While reading the book I thought about what was the “right” thing to do? Should Turtle have been raised by someone from her culture/ background or raised by Taylor? Taylor may not have the same nationality, but loves Turtle and cares for her no matter what. At the end of the novel, the answer about what happens to Turtle isn’t completely defined, but it keeps you thinking. I loved the way the characters are revealed in the story. One example is, like the loneliness, and lack of success to keep healthy relationships, that were clear about Alice. Alice’s marriage with Harland gives judgment into her life of love troubles. While reading further into the book the reader gets a sense of community when Taylor and her mother Alice, visit the Cherokee town Heaven. Everyone knows everyone else's family history, children, and especially gossip. The author stresses how important being close family is in her description of the neighborhoods in the small town of Heaven. "It was Roscoe's mama's homestead land, sixty acres. Every one of them got sixty acres, back in the allotments. Most of them sold it or give it away, or got it stole out from them in some way. I don't know why she didn't, probably didn't get no offers. So we ended up here. When the kids each one got big, we told them to find a place to set a trailer house and go ahead” (page 221). A huge theme in this novel would definitely be the importance of family because it ties all of the characters together.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago