Demon Copperhead – by Barbara Kingsolver – independent book review – Fiction

This is Barbara Kingsolver’s newest bestselling novel, providing us with a modern retelling of Charles Dickens’s autobiograpical masterpiece DAVID COPPERFIELD (1849). It’s powerful, emotion, revealing! A glimpse into American society we seldom see. Awarded five stars on Goodreads.

If you are unfamiliar with the Dickens original (I myself have never read it) you should know this is quite a sad story. Like David, Demon (that’s his nickname, birth name: Damon) is a young boy who yearns for love in the face of all that life throws at him. Poverty, addiction, abuse, foster homes — you name it, it touches Demon’s life. If he’s not the direct victim, someone he cares for or depends on is. His is a story of tragedy but also of determination and resilience.

At the start of the book Demon is about six years old, the only child of a single, teenage mother, who has her own baggage. His father died in an accident before Demon was born. So, Demon and him Mom only have each other. No external support, not much money.

Author Barbara Kingsolver

The novel follows Demon through the next 15 years as he navigates one obstacle after another, He’s smart and a talented artist but it’s difficult to prosper when you have few resources and live in a remote, rural area of the South. Some of the adults he encounters prove trustworthy, some don’t. Demon explores friendship with peers and finds that initial impressions can be false. In short, there are lots of interpersonal interactions similar to those we have all had.

What impressed me most in the writing is how convincing Demon’s voice is. Even his innermost thoughts. I often find female characters created by male writers and visa versa are not always fully believable. But Kingsolver speaks as convincingly for a six year old boy as she does for a young man. And adjusts his voice as Demon ages.

This novel is NOT to be missed. As long as you understand going in that it’s not an easy book to read.

More about the author, Barbara Kingsolver

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