Barbara Kingsolver is one of my favorite authors. The Poisonwood Bible makes my list of top ten favorite books of all time, and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and Flight Behavior both stand out among the hundreds of books I’ve read in my lifetime. I was thrilled when I heard Kingsolver had a new book coming out that many of her fans loved just as much, if not more, than The Poisonwood Bible.
In Kingsolver’s modern retelling of Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield, the copper-haired Demon is growing up with his mother in a small Appalachian mountain town. Tragedy strikes, leaving the eleven-year-old Demon essentially on his own. Readers follow his tough, winding journey from elementary school through early adulthood.
The novel is beautifully written, offering poignant and disturbing commentary on the rural American drug crisis and the multiple systems that fail or benefit off of the impoverished. However, despite the insightful prose and the underdog of underdogs as a main character, the story was longer than it needed to be, making it a slog to get through at times.
Although I never lost interest in Demon’s story, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why the book needed to be as frustratingly long as it was.
I am glad I read and stuck with Demon Copperhead until the bitter end. The title character leaves a lasting impression, but the book did not displace The Poisonwood Bible as my favorite Kingsolver novel.