Summary and book reviews of Small Wonder by Barbara Kingsolver

Small Wonder

by Barbara Kingsolver

Small Wonder by Barbara Kingsolver X
Small Wonder by Barbara Kingsolver
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

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

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Sometimes grave, occasionally hilarious, and ultimately persuasive, Small Wonder is a hopeful examination of the people we seem to be, and what we might yet make of ourselves.

In her new essay collection, the beloved author of High Tide in Tucson brings to us, out of one of history's darker moments, an extended love song to the world we still have.

Whether she is contemplating the Grand Canyon, her vegetable garden, motherhood, genetic engineering, or the future of a nation founded on the best of all human impulses, these essays are grounded in the author's belief that our largest problems have grown from the earth's remotest corners as well as our own backyards, and that answers may lie in both those places.

Sometimes grave, occasionally hilarious, and ultimately persuasive, Small Wonder is a hopeful examination of the people we seem to be, and what we might yet make of ourselves.

God's Wives Measuring Spoons

Most of the time I go right on growing tomatoes and basil and broccoli simply because they are good, we like them, I'm determined to figure out the right planting time for cole crops, and broccoli attracts hordes of green looper caterpillars that throw Lily's chickens into paroxysms of chicken joy. I do it because the world has announced to me, loudly, that it's time to make a choice between infinite material entitlement or a more modest, self-reliant security, and this is a step I can take in the right direction. Most of the time I raise up my wonderful daughters to have what I hope will be a useful blend of smart-aleck acuity and politeness, and once in a while we go down to help out the homeless shelter or dig a community vegetable garden because I want my kids to understand that compassion involves not just the heart but the hands. I write my ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Introduction
This is a collection of essays about who we seem to be, what remains for us to live for, and what I believe we could make of ourselves. It begins in a moment but ends with all of time. . . . I ask the readers to understand that these essays are not incidental. I believe our largest problems have grown from the earth's remotest corners as well as our own backyards, and that salvation may lie in those places, too.

Barbara Kingsolver looks out her window and sees a bobcat. She slaps a mosquito and senses that she is doing harm to more than just an insect. She reads about bombs raining over the Afghan countryside and thinks of the sons and ...
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!

Reviews

Media Reviews

Book Magazine - Penelope Mesic
While far from perfect, this book expresses the misgivings and despair experienced by many of us, and counters our shared sense of loss with the treasures of a quiet life.

San Francisco Chronicle
A delightful, challenging, and wonderfully informative book.

Library Journal - Judith Robinson
This gentle, intelligent gadfly will provide intellectual stimulation, whether or not the listener agrees with her positions.

Booklist - Donna Seaman
Food, motherhood, gardening, literature, television, homelessness, globalization, scientific illiteracy, selfishness, and forgiveness all come under sharp and revelatory scrutiny. As does love of country Americans who read and think are patriots of the first order.

Kirkus Reviews
Her best pieces--a discussion of adolescence addressed to her daughter; an essay on the difficulties of writing about sex-have a narrow focus. Good intentions and craft marred by sanctimony.

Publishers Weekly
This book of essays ... is like a visit from a cherished old friend...Respect for the intelligence of her audience is apparent everywhere in this outstanding collection.

Reader Reviews

Cloggie Downunder

The voice of reason
Small Wonder, Barbara Kingsolver’s second book of essays, was written after the events of 9/11, and touches on subjects as diverse as Terrorism, why the world doesn’t like America, Genetic Modification, Teenagers, Mothers, and Self-Sustainability. ...   Read More

Write your own review!

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!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

More books by Barbara Kingsolver

If you liked Small Wonder, try these:

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
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!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: Educated
    Educated
    by Tara Westover
    Voted 2018 Best Nonfiction Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    Tara Westover had the kind of ...
  • Book Jacket: Circe
    Circe
    by Madeline Miller
    Voted 2018 Best Fiction Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    Towards the end of Madeline Miller...
  • Book Jacket: Children of Blood and Bone
    Children of Blood and Bone
    by Tomi Adeyemi
    Voted 2018 Best Young Adult Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    What would you do if, in a ...
  • Book Jacket: Where the Crawdads Sing
    Where the Crawdads Sing
    by Delia Owens
    Voted 2018 Best Debut Novel Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    Where the Crawdads Sing was a ...

See all Award Winners & Top 20

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Winter Soldier
by Daniel Mason

A story of war and medicine, of finding love in the sweeping tides of history, and of the mistakes we make.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Listen to the Marriage
    by John Jay Osborn

    The story of a couple in trouble and an exploration of the obstacles we put in our own way.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

The 7 ½ Deaths of
Evelyn Hardcastle

"Agatha Christie meets Groundhog Day...quite unlike anything I've ever read." - A. J. Finn

Enter

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay: $400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & 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.