This week we’re featuring some of our favorite Audio Books, just in time for planning your summer road trips. You can also click the Audio Books tag at the bottom of this post or at the top of the tag cloud on the right hand side of our blog’s home page for more great audio book suggestions!
There’s nothing like a good traveling story to accompany a long summer road trip. And, if that story has fantastic literary merit, well, that’s an added bonus. One book that fits the bill is Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver. It follows the journeys of four main characters, Taylor Greer, her mother Alice Greer, Annawake Fourkiller, and Cash Stillwater. The stories of these characters and their friends, relations, and people they pick up along the way, are woven together in a far-reaching, close-touching story about family and home.
Taylor and her adopted daughter, Turtle, begin the novel on a road trip through the Grand Canyon. While visiting the Hoover Dam, Turtle sees a man fall off the edge into one of the drain pipes. After they finally convince local authorities to send a rescue team and the man is saved, Turtle and Taylor become overnight heroes. They even appear on Oprah and tell the world about Turtle’s unique beginnings. Several years earlier, Turtle was left with Taylor by an elderly woman, while Taylor was parked at a truck stop in the Cherokee Nation. Turtle had evidently suffered sexual abuse and would not speak even though she was about three years old. Enter Annawake Fourkiller, recently graduated attorney and member of the Cherokee Nation.
Annawake sees Taylor and Turtle on Oprah and questions Taylor about the legality of Turtle’s adoption, since Cherokee children cannot be adopted without the permission of the tribe. Feeling pressured by Annawake, Taylor runs away with Turtle and they are eventually accompanied by her mother, Alice, who has left her television-obsessed husband. They journey across the country, with no purpose other than keeping their family together. Meanwhile, in a seemingly unrelated subplot, Cash Stillwater’s boss at a touristy jewelry store in Wyoming commits suicide. This gives Cash a good enough reason to head home to the Cherokee Nation, where his mournful life just might find some meaning again.
I enjoyed this novel because it is wide-sweeping in its scope, but still manages to capture the very intimate meaning of family and belonging. Kingsolver’s characteristically powerful writing plus hearing the audio version, gave me a strong sense of truly knowing all of the characters, even secondary ones. As the plot lines thickened and the characters developed, I was entranced by the story and would sit a little longer in my car once I got where I was going, just so I could listen for a few more minutes. If you enjoy novels that explore the depths of character and weave lots of seemingly loose ends together into a satisfying conclusion, Pigs in Heaven will be a great read for you.
Pigs in Heaven is a sequel to The Bean Trees, a novel that tells the story Turtle’s extraordinary adoption and Taylor’s crash course in parenting.