Excerpt from Small Wonder by Barbara Kingsolver, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Small Wonder

by Barbara Kingsolver

Small Wonder
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Apr 2002, 288 pages
    Apr 2003, 288 pages

  • Rate this book

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

It's true. In our hour of crisis, no modern leader called on us for voluntary material sacrifice. The entitlement to personal gain is now, apparently, a higher value than duty to our country's greater good; please note that the wealthiest among us who rushed to dump their failing stocks and give our economy a black eye were never called unpatriotic. No leader could oppose it. No one dared us to put ourselves in the world's shoes (or its bare feet) and share, at least to some extent, in its fate. No public official even pointed out that we could improve our security immediately through our own collective action—by turning to local economies of production and distribution for our food and other necessities, by conserving energy, by turning off the TV and seeking solace from a city or national park or the hummingbird in the backyard instead of a new pair of shoes made in Malaysia. What could be better for our country, including its own economies, than to ease ourselves away from a framework of international profiteering that's proving perilous for so many reasons? But to call for this out loud might rattle the unassailable right to global moneymaking. It might be called treason, or sedition.

Such coldhearted values drive me back to my own faith as I mourn for the humane vision of a time that went before, and hope that vision will soon return to us. Freedom from fear, freedom from want—these clearly aren't meant just now for the Afghan civilians placed at risk of starvation. Our costly campaigns have put a notion of safety peculiar to ourselves ahead of any concern for the majority of world citizens who are starving and frightened—or for that matter, the hungry here at home.

Life takes awful, surprising turns; that's no news. I'm aware that just thirteen months after Roosevelt's eloquent call to conscience, the War Department persuaded him to order the internment of Japanese Americans. (The War Department, it's now known, manufactured threats of resident treachery to stir up public fear and uphold the concentration camps when they were challenged as unconstitutional.) But history's griefs can't entirely cancel its glories; there was that January day—the speech is archived as proof—when an American president proclaimed the lives of civilians on other soil to be as precious as our own. I would have planted a victory garden and accepted leaner rations to further that vision of a kinder world, in which all hungers mattered.

In fact, I'm planting one now: In response to September 11, a national network of gardeners has developed the means to devote a few rows of our gardens to the food banks that feed the hungry in our own communities. If our present leaders can't ask us for this sort of patriotism, we'll just go ahead without them. The public may expect fireworks

Excerpted from "God's Wives Measuring Spoons" in Small Wonder. Copyright © 2002 by Barbara Kingsolver. HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Crossing the Horizon
    Crossing the Horizon
    by Laurie Notaro
    In Crossing the Horizon, Laurie Notaro takes us back to a time when flying was a rare and risky ...
  • Book Jacket
    Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    by Mario Giordano
    Munich matron and self-described worldly sophisticate, Isolde Oberreiter, has decided to retire to a...
  • Book Jacket: Of Arms and Artists
    Of Arms and Artists
    by Paul Staiti
    In the late eighteenth-century, the United States of America was still an emerging country, ...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Les Parisiennes
    by Anne Sebba

    How the women of Paris lived, loved, and died under Nazi occupation.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.