Genre: Literary Fiction
Length: 560 pages
First Published: 2022
In a modern-day version of David Copperfield set in the Appalachian Mountains, Demon Copperhead speaks of how institutional poverty and the opioid epidemic damaged an entire generation of children. A child of a single mother living in a single-wide trailer, young Demon must survive foster care, child labor, poor schools, addiction, success, and failure in this epic tale perfect for book clubs who love thought-provoking topics.
Barbara Kingsolver’s masterpiece gives a voice to a modern generation while still echoing that not much has changed for marginalized portions of America. Full of realistic characters, Demon Copperhead isn’t afraid to shine a light on some of the darkest topics. Yet, Demon’s unending resilience carries you through the heaviest sections of the book. A completely engrossing read, Demon Copperhead breaks your heart while still making you laugh.
“Anyone will tell you the born of this world are marked from the get-out, win or lose.”
Demon Copperhead is set in the mountains of southern Appalachia. It’s 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. In a plot that never pauses for breath, relayed in his own unsparing voice, he 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.
About Barbara Kingsolver
Barbara Kingsolver is a novelist, essayist, and poet. Her works include The Poisonwood Bible, The Bean Trees, Demon Copperhead, and Unsheltered. She was raised in rural Kentucky and briefly lived in Africa. She currently lives in Virginia. Visit the author’s website →