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Demon Copperhead

I've mentioned before that Barbara Kingsolver is my favorite author and this is another winner from her. In fact, in terms of critical acclaim, this might be considered her best work yet (it won the Pulitzer in 2023).


The title is a play on Dickens' David Copperfield and deals with some of the same issues of poverty and class warfare but in the setting of modern-day Kentucky in the U.S. This area of the country has been ravaged by the opioid crisis, deals with significant poverty, and the communities affected are often blamed for their situation, rather than acknowledging the unjust systems and blatant abuses that have led to it.


Readers experience this community through the eyes of a young man, starting when he is a boy and traveling through his teenage years and into his early twenties. The content of this book is extremely heavy (drug use, abuse, etc) and often disheartening. In fact, there was a point where I thought, "I can't in good conscience recommend this book to anyone because it's just too sad!" But by the time I finished, I had changed my mind, not because everything ends perfectly rosy, but because Kingsolver gives her readers just enough hope to cling onto.


The reason I enjoy Barbara Kingsolver's writing so much is the way she writes her characters. The plot in this book is excellent, but what sets this book (and all of her books, in my opinion) apart is the empathy and understanding she creates for each of her characters.


As heartbreaking as this novel was, it was my unrivaled #1 pick from 2023. I highly recommend it.

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