Friday, December 30, 2022

Mini-Reviews: People Person and Demon Copperhead

Honestly, both of these books deserve more than just a mini-review but here we are at the end of the year and I want to get the books I read in 2022 reviewed in 2022. Except for the two that I hope to finish before midnight on the 31st! 

People Person
by Candice Carty-Williams
Read by Danielle Vitalis
10 hours, 4 minutes
Published September 2022 by Gallery/Scout Press

Publisher's Summary: 
If you could choose your wouldn’t choose the Penningtons.

Dimple Pennington knows of her half siblings, but she doesn’t really know them. Five people who don’t have anything in common except for faint memories of being driven through Brixton in their dad’s gold jeep, and some pretty complex abandonment issues. Dimple has bigger things to think about.

She’s thirty, and her life isn’t really going anywhere. An aspiring lifestyle influencer with a terrible and wayward boyfriend, Dimple’s life has shrunk to the size of a phone screen. And despite a small but loyal following, she’s never felt more alone in her life. That is, until a dramatic event brings her half siblings Nikisha, Danny, Lizzie, and Prynce crashing back into her life. And when they’re all forced to reconnect with Cyril Pennington, the absent father they never really knew, things get even more complicated.

My Thoughts:
  • I'd previously read Carty-Williams' Queenie and was impressed with her unique voice and was eager to see what she'd do next. 
  • Carty-Williams ups her game, as far a unique goes, with this book. 
  • Those half siblings of Dimple's have three different mothers. Prior to the night Dimple kills her boyfriend, she's only ever met each of them once, when their father picked them all up so they could meet each other. But when she needed help, and had nowhere else to turn, Dimple knew she had to turn to family. These young people have all kinds of issues individually and as a family. 
  • Carty-Williams writes about people I don't normally find in books, broadening my world. If you've been around very long, you know I'm always looking for books that can do that. 
  • Danielle Vitalis does a terrific job and I highly recommend this book in audio.
Demon Copperhead
by Barbara Kingsolver
560 pages
Published October 2022 by HarperCollins Publishers

Publisher's Summary: 
Set in the mountains of southern Appalachia, Demon Copperhead is the story of a boy born to a teenaged single mother in a single-wide trailer, with no assets beyond his dead father’s good looks and copper-colored hair, a caustic wit, and a fierce talent for survival. Relayed in his own unsparing voice, Demon braves the modern perils of foster care, child labor, derelict schools, athletic success, addiction, disastrous loves, and crushing losses. Through all of it, he reckons with his own invisibility in a popular culture where even the superheroes have abandoned rural people in favor of cities.

Many generations ago, Charles Dickens wrote David Copperfield from his experience as a survivor of institutional poverty and its damages to children in his society. Those problems have yet to be solved in ours. Dickens is not a prerequisite for readers of this novel, but he provided its inspiration. In transposing a Victorian epic novel to the contemporary American South, Barbara Kingsolver enlists Dickens’ anger and compassion, and above all, his faith in the transformative powers of a good story. Demon Copperhead speaks for a new generation of lost boys, and all those born into beautiful, cursed places they can’t imagine leaving behind.

My Thoughts: 
  • Barbara Kingsolver rewriting Charles Dickens? Yes, please.
  • It's been a long, long time since I read David Copperfield or watched any of the adaptations. Still, I had some recollection of the characters and plot and went in knowing that things were just going to keep getting worse and worse for young Demon. 
  • I appreciated that, while Kingsolver sets the book in an entirely different time and place, she keeps much of what makes Dickens' book so memorable, including many of the characters (although, thank God, she doesn't have nearly so many characters!). 
  • As bad as life was for David Copperfield, life is even worse for Demon, with fewer bright spots. It makes a very long book feel even longer. 
  • Like Dickens, Kingsolver writes about big issues in ways that educate and enlighten. And, here, feel a little bit guilty about the way I've always thought of poor mountain people.
  • Like Dickens, Kingsolver's books are often quite long and they frequently feel to me as though they could well be shorter without losing a thing. Here I got to the point where I start skimming and thinking "I get, he's an addict; the life of an addict is terrible." This coming from someone who believes that we don't paint that life nearly dark enough as general rule. 
  • Except for that last bit, this would have been a five-star read for me (assuming I gave stars out for books). Kingsolver brilliantly writes in voice that sound very believably like that of a bright young man of poor education, who has grown up in the impoverished mountains of southern Virginia. Her descriptions are vivid - I could easily visualize the squalor, the people, and, most vividly, the land that Demon so loved. 

1 comment:

  1. I have Demon Copperhead in my stacks and can't wait to start it! I've never read David Copperfield, and hope that won't be an issue.