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.
Great book but L O N G!
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The character development, story, and writing were all superb. However it fit very long and redundant. If it was 300 pages shorter would give it 5 stars.
One of the best books I’ve ever read
unique window into a world most of us don’t know or understand. Although painful in parts, it shines in the end, with unforgettable characters you come to love.
Love this book it will be in my mind and heart for a long time. This story touched a lot of nerves and my heart. Could not put this book down and when I had to, I couldn’t get it off my mind and couldn’t wait to get back to all the people and place.