Small Wonder by Barbara Kingsolver

So I’m thinking that next it’s time to finally try some of Kingsolver’s fiction…of which I own lots of. But after reading this book and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I’m convinced that nothing bad can come from this woman’s mind. I read this book with Debi and we’re still discussing some of these essays. Because there is so much to discuss. So much wonderfulness packed into just over 260 pages. I found myself reading this and just screaming inside “YES YES YES!” and wondering at the same time how this woman seemed to get into my head and then put my own thoughts so eloquently onto paper.

Kingsolver tackles many different issues in this book through several short essays. For anyone who has read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, you’ll be happy to know that there’s lots more talk of gardening and living sustainably in here. But she goes further than that with this collection. She talks about our relationship with the nature around us…the WHYS of living sustainably…she talks about what it means to be an American, and more importantly, what that shouldn’t mean…raising chickens…our power over animals and the questions that come with that…evolution vs. creationism…raising a family and being part of one…and she talks about how 9/11 affected her in many different ways…and how it affected us all and the blatant racism that sadly came out of it.

I found it touching reading her thoughts on 9/11. You know…I’m gonna be honest here. I cringe at the mention of 9/11 most times. I don’t like talking about it. The reason is NOT because I don’t care about the people who were affected by it. It’s because I DO care about the people affected by it. And I hate what it spawned. We rallied as a country for a few days following 9/11. We cared about each other. And then this horrible war started that was unfounded and it’s still going on today. We didn’t go after the small group of terrorists in Afghanistan…instead we basically took on all of the middle east. And that broke and continues to break my heart. Terms like “raghead” started getting thrown around…disgusting terms. And we were taught as a nation to fear anyone who wore the traditional garb that religion prescribed and it’s cultural significance. All of this has just gave me a strong aversion to even hearing the numbers “9 11”. And I wish it didn’t.

However, I found a kindred spirit in Barbara Kingsolver. I know that her and I are not the only two people who feel this way, but reading her thoughts felt like sitting down with an old friend and letting our worries out to each other. I felt that way with so many of these essays. Her writing is just so beautiful. Breathtaking at times. She addresses many more topics aside from the one’s I mentioned earlier…like writing, the idea of short stories, poetry…so many awesome topics.

I cherished these essays. I read one of them a day…sometimes two when I couldn’t help myself. But I wanted this book to last…and I wanted to savor each essay and contemplate on what she had to say. This is one that I think should be on everyone’s shelf whether you agree with what she has to say or not. It’ll make you think. Between this book and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I can honestly say that no other author has made a larger impact on how I interact with the every day world. Thanks again, Barbara…you mean the world to so many of us.

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7 Responses

  1. You’re so generous to say you read this with me when I’ve been so pathetically far behind it’s not even funny. But I’m certainly not behind because I don’t love these essays. Of course, you already know that. You already know that she’s been affecting me just the way she’s affected you. This book is a priceless treasure, and I’m soooooooooo grateful that you asked me to read it with you. Now to get back to reading it so we can discuss some more. 🙂

  2. it sounds lovely. another one 4 my list. my favorite of her fiction is the poisonwood bible

  3. I have never read any of her non-fiction. I really should!

  4. I’ve never read any Kingsolver but this sounds right up your alley! So I am glad you got it and read it and are over the top about it!!

  5. I too have never read Kingsolver — fiction or nonfiction. This essay collection may be a way of dipping my toe in the pool.

  6. I’ve had this essay collection on my wishlist ever since I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and I’m so glad you brought it to my attention again!!!

  7. The first book I ever read by Barbara Kingsolver was The Poisonwood Bible, and I really enjoyed it.

    (Also, can’t wait to hear your thoughts on Eating Animals; I read it last year and . . . well . . . I’ll wait to see what you think first!)

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