Archive for July 15th, 2009


What-are-you-reading-Wednesday: Prodigal Summer

July 15, 2009

By Kristen Fuhs Wells, communications director for the Indiana Humanities Council

I awoke to the sound of crickets outside today, about 20 minutes before my alarm clock was scheduled to do that job. Normally, a natural wake-up call would be cause for irritation, but I can thank Barbara Kingsolver for the peace — not anger — that overcame me. Just like a class on non-fiction writing caused me to be a different kind of reader, Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer  has caused me to be a different kind of observer.

All of the lead characters have an appreciation for nature — whether it’s moths, birds or apples — and by spending just a couple of hours with these characters, it’s given me a greater appreciation of the natural world as well. I’m in awe not only of Deanna’s ability to distinguish every piece of flora and fauna in Appalachia, but also Kingsolver’s research that went into developing Deanna’s knowledge. And, this morning, that made me think twice about shutting the window on the crickets. Were they mating calls? Simple conversational exchanges? I wanted to be Deanna so that I could understand the language of nature.

But this novel is so much more than natural observances — it’s Kingsolver’s prose and story that intertwines three summer love stories that pit human predators vs. human preys. I have a hunch everything will work out, but in nature, isn’t that always the case?

Read the book? Check out a reading discussion guide here.