by Joseph Walker
8 min read

Author: Barbara Kingsolver
Date Read: June 2019
Rating: 10/10


A book about love, loss, and life set in the American Southwest. The protagonist is Codi Noline, a young woman who returns to her hometown to confront her past and care for her ailing father Doc Homer, the town Doctor. As Codi struggles with her own identity, she is challenged with fixing the town’s water crisis, navigating her feelings for Loyd- her long-ago boyfriend, uncovering family secrets, and being without her sister Hallie who has gone to Nicaragua to provide aid during its civil war.


2) Hallie’s Bones

Summer storms in the desert are violent things, and clean, they leave you feeling like you have cried. -p.8

3) The Flood

God, why does a mortal man have children? It is senseless to love anything this much. -p.21

4) Killing Chickens

When Hallie was intensely excited, she had a wild animal look to her that could stop people in their tracks. A vibration came from her skin, like a bell that had just been struck. Her hair was long and reckless, curling wildly in the humidity. Every part of my sister could stir rebellion. I was thinking that if anything happened to her I wouldn’t survive. I couldn’t see that there would be any methor, or any point. -p.32

The tragedy for Hallie was that there might never be a cause worth risking everything for in our lifetime. -p.36

Few people know so clearly what they want. Most people can’t even think what to hope for when they throw a penny ina fountain. Almost no one really gets the chance to alter the course of human events on purpose, in the exact way they wish for it to be altered. -p.36

5) The Semilla Basada

Memory is a complicated thing, a relative truth but not its twin. -p.48

semilla basada - the seed that got kissed. -p.49

8) Pictures

It was a turning point for me, one of those instants of freaklishly clear sight when you understand tgar your parent might have taken entirely the wrong road in life, even if that road includes your own existence.

“Insomnia’s different. You know that light that comes on when you open the refrigerator door? Just imagine it stays on all the time, even after you close the door. That’s what it’s like in my head. The light stays on.” -p.75

9) The Bones In God’s Backyard

I want to be like that. Not the man selling shrimp. Like his machine. To give myself over utility, with no waste. -p.87

It’s a collective death. A whole land-based culture is being relocated out of its land– like a body trying to move out of its skin. Only the portable things survive. -p.88

I had to use pliers on those things. It didn’t give Loyd two seconds of trouble. The things that aggravate me most in this world are the things men do without even knowing it. -p.90

A dog can’t think much about what he’s doing, he just does what feels right. -p.91

Terms like that, “Humane Society”, are devised with people like me in mind, who don’t care to dwell on what happens to the innocent. -p.93

11) A River on the Moon

We’re animals. We’re born like every other mammal and we live our whole lives around disguised animal thoughts. There’s no sense pretending. -p.118

14) Day of the Dead

“That isn’t the point. People were looking to me for a decision, and I lost my nerve. You can’t lose your nerve. You’re the one that taught me that.” He looked me straight in the eye and said, “I lose my nerve a dozen times a day.” It was the last thing I expected to hear. I felt as if I’d been robbed. -p.156

17) Peacock Ladies & the Gertrude Stein

Hallie, what I can never put a finger on is the why of you and me. Why did you turn out the way you did? You’re my sister. We were baked in the same oven, with the same ingredients. Why does one cake rise and the other fall? -p.199

My life is a pitiful, mechanical thing without a past, like a little wind-up car, ready to run in any direction somebody points me. -p.199

And then while we all still waited I understood that the terror of my recurring dream was not about losing just vision, but the whole of myself, whatever that was. What you lose in blindness is the space around you, the place where you are, and without that, you might not exist. You could be nowhere at all. -p.204

18) Ground Orientation

He’d thought she was exotic, but she was just wild; there was a difference. -p.216

What keeps you going isn’t some final destination but just the road you’re on, and the fact that you know how to drive. You keep your eyes open, you see this damned-to-hell world you got born into, and you ask yourself, “What life can I live that will let me breathe in and out and love somebody or something and not run off screaming into the woods?” -p.224

I was getting a dim comprehension of the difference between Hallie and me. It wasn’t a matter of courage or dreams, but something a whole lot simpler. A pilot would call it ground orientation. I’d spent a long time circling above the clouds, looking for life, while Hallie was living it. -p.225

19) The Bread Girl

As the twig is bent, so grows the tree. -p.233

23) The Souls of Beasts

Pain reaches the heart with electrical speed, but truth moves to the heart as slowls as a glacier. -p.286

“There’s things worth risking your life for, but a hunk of metal’s not one of them.” -p.296

“Codi, for everybody that’s gone away, there’s somebody that’s come to you.” “You can’t replace people you love with other people. They’re not like old shoes or something.” “No. But you can trust that you’re not going to run out of people to love.” -p.297

It’s the thing you fear most that walks beside you all the time. - p.298

Here’s what I’ve decided: the very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof. What I want is so simple I almost can’t say it; elementary kindness. Enough to eat, enough to go around. The possibility that kids might one day grow up to be neither the destroyers nor the destroyed. That’s about it. Right now I’m living in that hope, running down its hallway and touching the walls on both sides.

I can’t tell you how good it feels. I wish you knew. I wish you’d stop beating yourself up for being selfish, and really be selfish. -p.299

24) The Luckiest Person Alive

“You could probably think of a hundred little things that would have made things turn out different. But you’d be wrong. A life like your sister’s isn’t some little pony you can turn around any way you want. It’s a train. Once it get’s going it’s heavier than heaven and hell put together and it runs on its own track.” -p.304

25) Flight

Awareness is everything. Hallie once pointed out to me that people worry a lot more about the eternity after their deaths than the eternity that happened before they were born. But it’s the same amount of infinity, rolling in all directions from where we stand. -p.317

28) Day of All Souls

“No, if you remember something, then it’s true. In the long run, that’s what you’ve got.” -p.342