Summary and book reviews of Small Wonder by Barbara Kingsolver

Small Wonder

by Barbara Kingsolver

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

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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 ...

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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 ...
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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

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