WINNER OF THE 2023 PULITZER PRIZE • WINNER OF THE WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION
A New York Times "Ten Best Books of 2022" • An Oprah’s Book Club Selection • An Instant New York Times Bestseller • An Instant Wall Street Journal Bestseller • A #1 Washington Post Bestseller
"Demon is a voice for the ages—akin to Huck Finn or Holden Caulfield—only even more resilient.” —Beth Macy, author of Dopesick
"May be the best novel of 2022. . . . Equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking, this is the story of an irrepressible boy nobody wants, but readers will love.” (Ron Charles, Washington Post)
From the acclaimed author of The Poisonwood Bible and The Bean Trees, a brilliant novel that enthralls, compels, and captures the heart as it evokes a young hero’s unforgettable journey to maturity
Set in the mountains of southern Appalachia, Demon Copperhead is the story of a boy born to a teenaged single mother in a single-wide trailer, with no assets beyond his dead father’s good looks and copper-colored hair, a caustic wit, and a fierce talent for survival. Relayed in his own unsparing voice, Demon braves the modern perils of foster care, child labor, derelict schools, athletic success, addiction, disastrous loves, and crushing losses. Through all of it, he reckons with his own invisibility in a popular culture where even the superheroes have abandoned rural people in favor of cities.
Many generations ago, Charles Dickens wrote David Copperfield from his experience as a survivor of institutional poverty and its damages to children in his society. Those problems have yet to be solved in ours. Dickens is not a prerequisite for readers of this novel, but he provided its inspiration. In transposing a Victorian epic novel to the contemporary American South, Barbara Kingsolver enlists Dickens’ anger and compassion, and above all, his faith in the transformative powers of a good story. Demon Copperhead speaks for a new generation of lost boys, and all those born into beautiful, cursed places they can’t imagine leaving behind.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
With a hat tip to David Copperfield, Barbara Kingsolver’s brilliant novel portrays a modern-day Appalachia that’s every bit as dangerous and unforgiving as Dickens’ Victorian London. Young Demon was born into an area of rural Tennessee where the only constants are poverty, drugs, and a dearth of opportunities. After losing his teen athletic gifts to a knee injury, Demon’s future looks grim. Saddled with a drug-addicted mother, a tragic father, and a system that never fails to fail, Demon faces a daunting journey. We love how Kingsolver never diminishes the darkness of Demon’s world, yet still manages to provide points of light like his determined foster sister, Angus, an academic star with big plans to help the entire community. Kingsolver is a staggeringly talented storyteller. She can’t change the real-world hardships that Demon faces, but she can make us see them in a new light.
Kingsolver (Unsheltered) offers a deeply evocative story of a boy born to an impoverished single mother. In this self-styled, modern adaptation of Dickens's David Copperfield, Demon Copperhead, 11, is the quick-witted son and budding cartoonist of a troubled young mother and a stepfather in southern Appalachia's Lee County, Va.; eventually, his mother's opioid addiction places Demon in various foster homes, where he is forced to earn his keep through work (even though his guardians are paid) and is always hungry from lack of food. After a guardian steals his money, Demon hitchhikes to Tennessee in search of his paternal grandmother. She is welcoming, but will not raise him, and sends him back to live with the town's celebrated high school football coach as his new guardian, a widower who lives in a castle-like home with his boyish daughter, Angus. Demon's teen years settle briefly with fame on the football field and a girlfriend, Dori. But stability is short-lived after a football injury and as he and Dori become addicted to opioids ("We were storybook orphans on drugs"). Kingsolver's account of the opioid epidemic and its impact on the social fabric of Appalachia is drawn to heartbreaking effect. This is a powerful story, both brilliant in its many social messages regarding foster care, child hunger, and rural struggles, and breathless in its delivery.
A realistic look into the effects of the opioid crisis but told in a masterful story telling way. Parts of the book was so depressing that I didn’t know if I could finish but glad I did.
Love this author but a hard read
The writing as usual is spectacular, weaving elements of nature and culture into an amazing story as only she can. That being said I almost quit on this book several times. It is just so very heavy and sad with so few uplifting moments. I would say the journey of this book feels like watching an ASPCA commercial—sad, guilty, and hopeless. Ultimately I’m glad I saw it though to the end. I even feel guilty writing this review because I love Barbara Kingsolver so very much!
Coming from the system i am here to tell you this excellent book was so hard for this 70 yo woman as so much took me back to those early yrs of mine in Oklahoma. Different but the same. Gripping at times. This book goes the range of emotions. Sad funny delighted scared happy destroyed and tears laughter. Im so happy i have read it. Thank you all who made this book come alive especially the author.