When I saw that Kingsolver was going to be one of our reads for the Sony Readers Club that I participated in, I was thrilled. I read The Poisonwood Bible in high school and had a great first experience with her writing. I gave up on Animal, Vegetable, Miracle because I felt like it was a bit preachy, but I was confident that Kingsolver would pull through on her fiction. The added benefit to this one is that it is set in rural Appalachian Tennessee, not too far from where I live. It's about climate change, marriage, poverty, and religion.
Kingsolver did a great job in this book of uniting several disparate issues in an organic way. While the climate change portions of the book were the most overt, I felt like she blended in the topics of infidelity, child rearing, education, and poverty in a way that felt like it was a part of the story, not a list of topics to be covered. They melded together with Dellarobia, our main character's, story in a way that didn't feel contrived.
I also loved the setting and, particularly, the descriptions of rural Appalachian life. For the last five years I've worked with students who have faced the same barriers to education and the "better life" of the American dream that the characters in the book face. Kingsolver did a great job of making her characters sympathetic and their difficulties understandable. She didn't fall into the caricature of poor Southern/Appalachian life that I see so frequently depicted in popular culture.
It took me a long time to read this book. It took me forever to get into the story, but once I did, the story picked up and I read it fairly quickly. However, the last quarter of the book dragged as well. It took me about four months from the time I first stared the book till the time I finished it, which, for me, is super long. I'm glad I read it, but I think there's a fairly specific audience for this book.
If you're a fan of literary fiction, then you should definitely give it a try, particularly if you've got time to invest in a slower-moving plot. It's also more likely to appeal to those who are interested in climate change or the Appalachian setting. If you're wanting something fast-paced and plot-driven, then this is probably not going to appeal.