Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver


Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver

Since reading The Poisonwood Bible many years ago, Barbara Kingsolver has been one of my favorite authors. She has a beautiful way of capturing the human spirit through the written word, and I love how she weaves lessons about nature into many of her storylines.

I’ve read many of her works, including Demon Copperhead, Flight Behavior, and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, which details how she and her family lived for a year off the food they grew themselves. When I saw Prodigal Summer at a local bookstore, I was excited to run across a Kingsolver novel I hadn’t yet read. 

The book follows three sets of characters – Deanna Wolfe, Lusa Landowski, and Garnett and Nannie, an elderly man and woman who all live on Zebulon Mountain in rural Southern Appalachia. Deanna is a biologist who lives alone deep in the woods. Lusa is a young farmer’s wife who has just suffered a tragedy. Garnett and Nannie are feuding neighbors. Equally important to these storylines is what’s happening on the land and in nature on the mountain.

“Don’t wait around thinking you’ve got all the time in the world. Maybe you’ve just got this one summer. Will you remember that?”

Barbara Kingsolver, Prodigal Summer

I connected most with Deanna and Lusa’s storylines. The way their lives changed and their revelations about themselves during the summer of focus spoke to me and made me think about where I am in my own life. I appreciated how biology and nature were woven throughout the book. The observations about grief also struck a chord with me.

The intersection of the stories was understated, and though the action unfolded slowly, I didn’t want the story to end. Like the long days of childhood summers, this book is meant to be unhurriedly savored, relished, and contemplated. Although I’m not generally a re-reader of books, Prodigal Summer is one I think I’d find value in rereading.

My review of Demon Copperhead is available here.

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