Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver Book Summary
A NEW YORK TIMES "TEN BEST BOOKS OF 2022"
An Oprah’s Book Club Selection • An Instant New York Times Bestseller • An Instant Wall Street Journal Bestseller • A #1 Washington Post Bestseller
"Demon is a voice for the ages—akin to Huck Finn or Holden Caulfield—only even more resilient.” —Beth Macy, author of Dopesick
"May be the best novel of 2022. . . . Equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking, this is the story of an irrepressible boy nobody wants, but readers will love.” (Ron Charles, Washington Post)
From the acclaimed author of The Poisonwood Bible and The Bean Trees, a brilliant novel that enthralls, compels, and captures the heart as it evokes a young hero’s unforgettable journey to maturity
Set in the mountains of southern Appalachia, Demon Copperhead is the story of a boy born to a teenaged single mother in a single-wide trailer, with no assets beyond his dead father’s good looks and copper-colored hair, a caustic wit, and a fierce talent for survival. Relayed in his own unsparing voice, Demon braves the modern perils of foster care, child labor, derelict schools, athletic success, addiction, disastrous loves, and crushing losses. Through all of it, he reckons with his own invisibility in a popular culture where even the superheroes have abandoned rural people in favor of cities.
Many generations ago, Charles Dickens wrote David Copperfield from his experience as a survivor of institutional poverty and its damages to children in his society. Those problems have yet to be solved in ours. Dickens is not a prerequisite for readers of this novel, but he provided its inspiration. In transposing a Victorian epic novel to the contemporary American South, Barbara Kingsolver enlists Dickens’ anger and compassion, and above all, his faith in the transformative powers of a good story. Demon Copperhead speaks for a new generation of lost boys, and all those born into beautiful, cursed places they can’t imagine leaving behind.
Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver Book Reviews
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Just read it. You won’t regret it.
An amazing tapestry of captivating fiction and fact from modern day backwoods VA. I laughed out loud, cried, wanted to move to Lee County and hoped my daughters would never come close to such a place. This is a wonderfully sobering follow up to Beth Macy’s Dopesick. A book to be appreciated on so many levels…
I stumbled on this book and was flabbergasted to find the setting in my hometown of Lee County, VA. My parents moved us to Nashville when I was a child but we make many trips a year to this beautiful, unappreciated heaven on earth the Author so poignantly described. Highway 58 is worth the drive. She has also perfectly described the sad nature of the small, rural towns and the heartbreaking scenes of generations of our Appalachian ancestors. This book made me cry and swell with pride to be from such a remarkable heritage. Ms. Kingsolver truly made Demon Copperhead come to life.
I quit this book halfway through reading it as it was literally depressing me (both the story and the writing).
Kingsolver never disappoints. I’m in awe of her ability to inhabit the voices of her characters, in particular, Demon. A timely work of absolute genius.
Captivating read. The first part so sad it is difficult to continue. Again a story where “art” saves a person.
One of the best novels I have read in many years, but not for the faint of heart or those not up for a painful ride. Alternately sad, devastating, dark, funny and ultimately, uplifting. A laser focus on pressing social issues and the resulting destruction of kids and families, told through an incredibly authentic narrative.
And the way I had to pause regularly to find someone in the house to tell them what I was learning. Best of all worlds, this book. Definitely a top 5 of all time for me.
This is an excellent novel. I enjoyed the characters and the plot. There are lots of twists and turns but it’s quite coherent. The modern crises in rural America are compellingly portrayed. It’s a bit didactic though.
Excellent read with much thought provoking moments. I couldn’t wait for the next chapter to learn more about the world surrounding Demon.
Simply beautifully written, an incredible story one I will never forget!!!
Loved the first half. Then she just rambled on. I gave up
I loved the humor and forthrightness of young Demon. I missed the humor once he got tangled up even more in the web he could not escape. Kingsolver nailed the football culture of small town high school! I had such longing for Demon and Tommy in their recovery of all things living and resilient. They are champions. There is hope still out there. I only hope there is enough time for those hurting from life made way too hard.
Authentic & beautifully written, Demon Copperhead is NOT your Grade 8 summer reading requirement -it’s the literary version of a great song covered by an equally great artist (think: Johnny Cash covering NIN ‘Hurt’). This spin on the Dickens classic is at once fresh and new & hauntingly familiar. Ms. Kingsolver’s work proves that the societal issues of Victorian London are alive & well in Gen-X Appalachia. Next up: the author’s take on Great Expectations, set in Boston, circa 1982 (hey, a girl can hope, right?).
Well written, no doubt about that, but a heavy, hard, depressingly dark book to read. Poverty, domestic violence, child abuse, drugs, addiction, pill mills, opioids, more abuse, industrial poverty, and on and on and on, with very little hope. You’ve been warned now.
Another amazing book by Kingsolver! It grabbed me page 1 and never let go. Such a beautiful story. I could not put it down.
Well told depressing story; a well tailored hair shirt. Sad that some people have such a life. “Read my lips, no new taxes “ but rampant capitalism yields such misery.
My favorite Kingsolver book a ten years.
Fantastic! One of the best books I’ve read this year. Awesome. I read it in 2 days. Love, love, loved it!
This idea of using a Dickens novel and rewriting it based on its premise is not new, despite what Oprah or some reviewers might think. It was done far better years ago in the another large book - The Quincunx. It too was filled with glumness and nothing good ever happening. This book is overwhelmingly depressing about a sad topic we have heard much about already. Not sure what purpose it serves at this point other than to depress the reader. Hard pass, despite the excellent writing. The topic deserves more than just a depressing novel.
Seriously couldn’t put this down. This story will stay with me. Read it.
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Barbara Kingsolver - Demon Copperhead Comments
Barbara Kingsolver (born April 8, 1955) is an American novelist, essayist and poet. She was raised in rural Kentucky and lived briefly in the Congo in her early childhood. Kingsolver earned degrees in biology at DePauw University and the University of Arizona and worked as a freelance writer before she began writing novels. Her widely known works include The Poisonwood Bible, the tale of a missionary family in the Congo, and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, a non-fiction account of her family's attempts to eat locally. Her work often focuses on topics such as social justice, biodiversity and the interaction between humans and their communities and environments. Each of her books published since 1993 has been on the New York Times Best Seller list. Kingsolver has received numerous awards, including the Dayton Literary Peace Prize's Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award 2011, UK's Orange Prize for Fiction 2010, for The Lacuna, and the National Humanities Medal. She has been nom....