Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver (Literary Fiction)

Writing: 5/5 Characters: 5/5 Plot: 3/5
A transposition of Dickens’ David Copperfield from Victorian England to Hillbilly country (the Appalachians). Damon (quickly nicknamed Demon) Copperhead is born to a drug addled and largely unconscious single mother in a rickety trailer. Kingsolver’s first line (getting us right into Dickens territory): “First, I got myself born. A decent crowd was in hand to watch, and they’ve always given me that much: the worst of the job was up to me, my mother being let’s just say out of it.” From this point, the book proceeds for 560 pages documenting the story of this one lovable and very lost boy through a childhood of poverty, foster care, addiction, and loss.

The writing is detailed, heart felt and persuasive — almost too much so as the absolute unfairness of almost everything that happens to Damon is described in such detail and with such clarity on his resulting feelings, it is literally hard (for me) to keep reading. His character is so complete and so genuine that you feel helpless watching him get crushed time after time by people and situations that were not of his making.

Aside from the emotional toll this book took on me, the storytelling was superb, with real depth ranging across a whole slew of people and situations. If you can squeeze out your emotional sponge and put it somewhere out of reach, you’ll love this wild storytelling ride. Some real insight into what it would be like to grow up in this environment.

Thank you to Harper Books and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book will be published on October 18th, 2022.