Picks and Pans Review: Pigs in Heaven

updated 06/28/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/28/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Barbara Kingsolver

Like a tumbleweed, this engaging story of a Southwestern family keeps tumbling along, bouncing off obstacles, making you cross your fingers with every lurch.

The likably flawed characters are single mother Taylor: her adopted daughter, Turtle, 6; her rock and rolling boyfriend, Jax; and. joining them by phone, her mother, Alice, who's searching for a replacement for her Home Shopping Network-addicted husband.

Into their lives comes Annawake Fourkiller, a Native American lawyer for the Cherokee Nation, who spots mother and daughter on Oprah after Turtle has become famous for saving a man's life. Turtle is Cherokee and was dumped on Taylor in a parking lot as an abused 3-year-old. Annawake is determined to bring her back to her people. Panicked, Taylor takes Turtle and runs.

The scene shifts from the sleazy motels and peanut-butter sandwiches that sustain the disjointed family to, through Annawake's eyes, life in Heaven—the name of the town that encompasses the Cherokee reservation. Kingsolver shows us both sides fairly and evenly.

Above all, this is a novel about ethnic relationships and ties between families, mothers and daughters, men and women. While some plot twists border on the hokey, Pigs is so full of wit, compassion and intelligence that you really don't mind. (HarperCollins, $22)

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