Val's Pick: "Demon Copperhead" by Barbara Kingsolver
I have read and enjoyed many of Barbara Kingsolver’s books but her latest, Demon Copperhead, is my favorite.
Loosely based on the Dickens’ novel, David Copperfield, Kingsolver tells the story of a young boy, Demon Copperhead, growing up in the Appalachian mountains during the 1990s. The novel spans Demon’s (a nickname) life from the age of nine to his late teens. Demon experiences more trauma than most of us will in an entire lifetime, from being placed into foster care to drug addiction.
In any other author’s hands, Demon’s story could feel like the author was ticking off boxes of all the issues that could possibly be heaped onto a character and the character ends up turning into a caricature. But Kingsolver’s writing and character development avoids that pitfall and I was left at the end of the novel feeling as though I had just read a real person’s memoir instead of a work of fiction. The writing style did take me a chapter or two to get used to but once I did, I was all in.
If you are looking for an easy-to-read story, this is not it. If you are looking for a story that makes you think and feel empathy for a life that may not look like your own, this is it.