Novel Touts Value of Knowing One’s Culture #Thursday Book Feature

Pigs in Heaven: A Novel

by Barbara Kingsolver

Copyright 1993.


This is the sequel to The Bean Trees, which I reviewed here a couple of weeks ago. Taylor and her six-year-old adopted Indian daughter Turtle are living happily in Tucson, Arizona. While vacationing at The Grand Canyon, Turtle sees a man fall into a spillway. She and Taylor alert the authorities, and the story becomes national news.

As a result, Taylor and Turtle are asked to appear on the Oprah Winfrey show. In Oklahoma, a lawyer for the Cherokee Nation, after seeing Turtle on TV, questions the validity of the child’s adoption, which occurred three years earlier. When Taylor learns of the lawyer’s suspicion, she and Turtle hit the road. Her mother, who lives in Kentucky, travels to Oklahoma to visit her cousin and plead their case.

Parts of this story could have moved along faster, but otherwise, I was riveted. On cold winter nights, without leaving my recliner, I traveled through desert heat from Arizona to Nevada to Washington State and finally, to the small town of Heaven, Oklahoma. From a Las Vegas coffee shop, where we meet a waitress with a Barbie obsession, to a Cherokee ceremonial dance in Oklahoma, the author drew me into her story. Although the ending was satisfactory, I would like to have seen a few details resolved. Otherwise, this second novel by Barbara Kingsolver is a good story.



New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.


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Review: The Dance House

Note: I’ve decided to review books as I read them instead of doing them all at once. This will make my life easier, and the additional posts might attract more readers.


The Dance House: Stories from Rosebud

by Joseph Marshall III

Copyright 1998


Since Joseph Marshall was the keynote speaker at this year’s annual Wyoming Writers conference, I decided to read one of his books. The Dance House contains short stories and essays about Indian life. The stories take place during the earlier part of the 20th century. In “Oliver’s Silver Dollar,” a young Lakota Sioux, speaking little English, is sent to a mental institution where he stays for thirty years because of a misunderstanding over one word. In “1965 Continental,” a white sheriff persecutes an Indian man because he believes he stole a fancy car. Other tales are about Native Americans surviving blizzards, dealing with whites who discriminate against them, and sharing wisdom and traditions with their grandchildren. The title story deals with the aftermath of a law allowing white men to claim Indian land. This collection also contains essays about Indians’ heritage, culture, and dealings with white oppressors.

The stories in this book took me back to times and places I hadn’t explored much since I was a teen’-ager in Mrs. Wright’s English class at Sheridan High School in Wyoming. If she were still teaching, I’m sure she would assign this book to her students. We all should read books like this to understand how we, as a nation, did a disservice to Native Americans by forcing them onto reservations, placing their children in government-run boarding schools, and commandeering their land. Remember that Indians were here before any of the first settlers came to this country in the 1600’s.


Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems