book jacket

Animal Dreams

  1. What is the significance of the title?
  2. Why do you believe Barbara Kingsolver chose Grace as the town's name?
  3. How does Kingsolver's background as a biologist and human rights activist manifest itself in Animal Dreams?
  4. How do the alternating viewpoints of the chapters affect the telling of the story?
  5. Why does Doc Homer veil his past? How do his past and point of view serve as vehicles for the novel's themes of memory and identity? What is the significance of Doc Homer's illness?
  6. What moves someone into the role of care giving for a parent? What are the barriers and benefits of taking on the role of caregiver?
  7. Codi says, “What we suffered in our lives we went through together, but somehow we came out different doors.” Why do Hallie and Codi take such different life paths? Is Hallie's path any more or less noble than Codi's?
  8. Codi says, “Memory is a complicated thing, a relative to truth, but not its twin.” How do Codi's memories affect her understanding of her family and Grace?
  9. What roles do forgiveness and reconciliation play in the novel?
  10. What is the meaning of community as Codi comes to see it? How does her understanding of her family history deepen her connection to her community and her feeling of responsibility for others?
  11. How did the community demonstrate that Doc, Hallie and Codi always were family? Why was Codi's perception veiled? Why did members of the community hold back?
  12. How does cultural tradition affect Codi's family and community life in Grace?
  13. Codi says, “You can't know somebody till you've followed him home.” What does Codi learn on the trip to the reservation with Loyd? How does it change her?
  14. What are the differences and commonalities between the types of love Codi searches for and struggles with (romantic, parental, sibling, community, place or environment), and how do those different aspects of love function in our own lives?
  15. How does the idea of fertility—of a woman's womb, of the land—tie the story together?
  16. What is the significance of Grace's environmental crisis? In what way can the cleaning of the environment be seen as symbolic?
  17. What does Animal Dreams have to say about how different cultures relate to nature? How do creation stories, such as the Pueblo creation legend and the Garden of Eden story, continue to influence culture and behavior?
  18. Has reading and discussing this book changed your perception of community? Has the Reading Together experience helped you to better understand diverse cultures within our community?
  19. How does this year's book, Animal Dreams, reflect the Reading Together program?