[Barbara Kingsolver]'s new novel, "Pigs in Heaven," takes up where her first novel, "The Bean Trees," left off, with the abandoned Cherokee girl, Turtle, and her adopted white mother, Taylor Greer, living in Tucson. Turtle is 6 years old now, still vaguely damaged from the abuse she suffered as an infant and toddler, but getting along fine in the world.
True, the road trip allows Taylor to be physically separated from her own world and thereby receptive to understanding the separation Turtle might feel later concerning her culture, but it is a trip her character takes unconvincingly. Taylor is smarter than both missteps; had the writer pulled her aside and consulted her, Taylor might have explained that she would never make her life public on national television, and, once threatened, would sit tight until there was real menace-then move.
Barbara Kingsolver is a gifted stylist with a keen eye toward America's political preoccupations. However, in "Pigs in Heaven," the United States she offers up contains a benevolent corner for all her characters' various trajectories to intersect and come to rest, an ideal place that looks and feels like, and is even named, Heaven-a place that, unfortunately, Kingsolver can't make us believe in.