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Kingsolver, Barbara

child taylor kentucky takes

(US, 1955– )

Like her spirited heroine, Taylor Greer, Kingsolver grew up in Kentucky, and settled in Tucson, Arizona. A long-term human rights activist, Kingsolver has a keen ear for the speech of the poor whites, Mexicans, and Native Americans of the southern states. Begin with The Bean Trees (1988), in which the plucky Taylor has only two goals: to escape Kentucky and avoid getting pregnant. She sets out across country in a clapped-out car, but motherhood catches up with her in a service station when a traumatized Native American child is thrust into her care. Taylor's story is continued in Pigs in Heaven (1993), when a Cherokee lawyer challenges the adoption of the now 6-year-old child, and the reader is torn by two compelling arguments about the child's best interests. As in her memorable second novel, Animal Dreams (1990), Kingsolver finds the lives of her small-town characters both compelling and magical. The Poisonwood Bible (1999) is the story of an evangelical Baptist who takes his woefully unprepared family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959; Kingsolver is particularly good on his bullying character, and on Africa. Prodigal Summer (2000) takes various characters living their separate lives on a remote mountainside, throws them all together, and watches as over the course of one summer they develop intense attachments to each other and to the place itself.

Gloria Naylor, Ellen Gilchrist, Louise Erdrich  JN

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