I think that one of the best things about being done with school is the ability to read for fun, guilt free. I don't have a TV and spent a few weeks without internet as well, so I have really been pounding out the books this summer! This book has been my favorite so far, by a long shot. Barbara Kingsolver is one of the rare authors who can write a compelling and juicy piece of fiction that completely sucks you in and entertains you without losing the quality or depth of the literature itself. Prodigal Summer, true to its name, is a perfect summer read. It is essentially three mini-novels-in-one, following the lives of three completely different characters throughout the course of one summer in southern Appalachia.
There is the crotchety old man (ala Up) who is lost after the death of his wife, trying to navigate a modern and changing world while laboring on his life work of hybridizing a blight-resistant strain of American chestnut...and worrying about what will happen to the trees after he is gone.
There is the reclusive Forest Service woodswoman who lives alone up the mountain, looking after the wildlife and making an amazing discovery that is threatened by the (attractive and younger) wandering hunter who walks into her life and disrupts her solitude.
Finally, there is the young entomologist from "the city", who finds herself stranded on a farm and healing after a tragedy, struggling to fit in with the tight-knit family who has owned the farm for generations, and also trying to assert her own independence and realize her dreams.
The stories of the three characters overlap, and you can see how their lives are beginning to merge towards the end. This book will probably change the way you look at the natural world, and is definitely worth a visit!