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Pigs in Heaven

Current Status:
In Season
Barbara Kingsolver

We gave it an A

PIGS IN HEAVEN Barbara Kingsolver (HarperCollins, $22) Great news for readers (I’m one) who present copies of Barbara Kingsolver’s incandescent novels The Bean Trees and Animal Dreams to friends like keys to the kingdom of independent-women’s heaven: Taylor Greer, the resourceful, big-spirited heroine of The Bean Trees, is back, rattling across the Southwest with her adopted 6-year-old daughter, Turtle, whom she found, two novels ago, more or less abandoned in the front seat of her Volkswagen. Turtle comes from the Cherokee Nation, and now Taylor is on the run because Annawake Fourkiller, an idealistic young lawyer passionately committed to the preservation of her Cherokee tribe, threatens to tear up Taylor’s family in the course of regrafting Turtle to her severed roots. Kingsolver navigates a graceful moral route between the passions of motherhood and those of heritage. She expands on the supple bond between Taylor and her own mother, Alice; she also creates a refreshingly generous relationship between Taylor and her boyfriend, a decent and expressive man called Jax. No one has much money in Kingsolver’s American Utopia, and everyone knows what it’s like to eat at a pancake house off a hot highway without knowing what to do next. But that, too, can be a kind of freedom when one has spirit and resolve and the kind of unfashionably unneurotic moral gumption that is Barbara Kingsolver’s considerable gift to the literature of contemporary womanhood. A -Lisa Schwarzbaum