A contemporary retelling of Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield (no need to have read the original!), Demon Copperhead tells the story of a boy, an orphan, growing up in Appalachia who braves the modern perils of rural poverty, foster care, addiction and crushing loss. With the transformative power of a good story and a plot that never pauses for a breath, it is perhaps my favorite Barbara Kingsolver novel to date. Told in the first person, but with a whole Dickensian cast of characters bearing similar names to the original, I loved the pitch-perfect voice, a voice powerful and immediate and fierce, with a breathless intensity that grabs the reader from the start and fully immerses them in a story that at times feels like a punch to the gut. We hear in Demon Copperhead’s own words the desperation born of fentanyl and oxycontin addiction, of a system that has rendered him invisible, of people and communities broken by opioids, of children in need of heroes and finding none (Demon creates his own superheroes!) Brilliant and brutal, it is a classic coming-of-age tale of survival that is seething with rage and wickedness, compassion and heartbreak. Ed loved and highly recommends!— Ed
“Come for Kingsolver’s classic mastery of language and descriptions that leave you overwhelmed in the most soulful way. Stay for a heart-wrenching and compassionate story of survival that will go down as one of her best works of all time.”
— Libby Monaghan, Twice Told Tales, McPherson, KS
Kingsolver is a writer who can help us understand and navigate the chaos of these times. --Minneapolis Star Tribune
From the New York Times bestselling author of Unsheltered and Flight Behavior, a brilliant novel which enthralls, compels, and captures the heart as it evokes a young hero's unforgettable journey to maturity.
Anyone will tell you the born of this world are marked from the get-out, win or lose.
Demon Copperhead is set in the mountains of southern Appalachia. It's 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. In a plot that never pauses for breath, relayed in his own unsparing voice, he 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.