Small Wonder
by Barbara Kingsolver

HarperCollins, 2002. ISBN 0060504072.
Reviewed by Lee Ambrose
Posted on 02/21/2003

Nonfiction: Life Lessons

Born from her own pain and grief over the events of September 11, 2001, this collection of essays is Barbara Kingsolver's gift to her readers in a post 9-11 world. In her foreword, she writes, "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."

Kingsolver is best known for her fictional works, including The Poisonwood Bible, Animal Dreams, Pigs in Heaven, and an earlier collection of essays, High Tide in Tucson. In 2000, Kingsolver was awarded our country's highest honor for service through the arts, the National Humanities Medal.

The focus of these essays covers a wide range of topics. Yet, Kingsolver delivers a common perspective—finding the goodness or the potential for goodness in every corner of her/our world. Whether she is writing about the Grand Canyon, her small daughter's love affair with chickens, her dislike of "the one-eyed monster" (television), or pondering why short stories are not more popular in America, Kingsolver gives reason to take pause. Her messages are hearfelt, uplifiting, and thought-provoking.

To this reader, one of the most poignant essays is "And Our Flag Was Still There." Speaking from the heart, Kingsolver delivers a political science and history lesson wrapped in her own convictions and the tale of her child's kindergarten's "red,white, & blue day" shortly after the 9-11 attacks. In a sense, it is the author's literary call to arms for Americans. Kingsolver's closing line says it all: "That is my flag, and that's what it means: We're all just people, together."

(See another review of this book, here)

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