Why go back to Grace, Arizona? Even the train conductors say not to stop because it’s a nothing place. But Codi has her reasons. Doc Homer, her father, has Alzheimer’s and her beloved sister, Hallie, is leaving for Nicaragua Unlike Hallie she can’t rest while there is injustice in the world. Give her a year-that’s it and she can run off again to Carlos and the almost platonic relationship she has been sharing with him. It was a comfortable threesome in Tucson with Hallie, but now it’s over and she and Carlos are lost without Hallie to teach them to Moon walk and be their anchor. Codi never fit in Grace. Doc Homer made sure. He didn’t want his daughters fitting in. They were too good for the traditions and ways of Grace with it’s Peacocks and heavy history, every one like one big family. He put Hallie and Codi in orthopedic shoes and kept them on a short leash. He regulated their every move. But when Codi got pregnant at fifteen he couldn’t say a word. When she had the baby after six months alone, in the family bathroom, he offered only a pill afterwards and it was never discussed. And what of the baby’s father, Loyd? What would he say if Codi could ever get up the nerve to tell him he had a child born premature and buried beside the river? He had changed since high school. The hard drinking , irresponsible teenager had turned into a man holding down a job with the railroad. He was handsome and sweet natured , sought after by all the women in Grace, but his violent hobby of cockfighting on the Pueblo reservation he came from put Codi off. Could she really commit to a man who seemed to glory in such a cruel occupation? Could Codi commit to a town with old traditions, family, and friends? Could she go on being a high school biology teacher? She had abruptly left medical school after she officiated at a very difficult delivery of a breach baby. Hacking it in Grace might be too much. It was easier just to run away after a year and go back to Carlos and work in a Seven Eleven or some other menial job. Barbara Kingsolver continues her tradition of deep, thoughtful novels about everyday people and their issues. Animal Dreams is beautifully written and touching.

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