Pigs in Heaven Study Guide

Pigs in Heaven By Barbara Kingsolver

Taylor Greer, Kentucky native, had an adventure several years ago (in a different book) in which a woman left her a Cherokee baby, whom she named Turtle. The first tale covers Turtle's childhood. Two years after the end of the first book (The Bean Trees), Pigs in Heaven begins.

Taylor and Turtle are visiting Hoover Dam when Turtle sees a man fall down a spillway. Taylor believes Turtle despite the unlikelihood of that happening, and with her insistence, a search finds the man before he perishes. Turtle and Taylor make headlines, and are invited onto the Oprah Winfrey Show. Cherokee lawyer Annawake Fourkiller sees the show, and recognizes Turtle as a child of Cherokee heritage. She starts a campaign under the Indian Child Welfare Act to have Turtle returned to her birth family, and, afraid of losing Turtle, Taylor leaves her home and goes on the lam with Turtle.

Taylor leaves behind old friend Lou Ann Ruis and her new boyfriend Jax, and takes only Turtle with her. Her mother, Alice, joins the pair in Las Vegas; the three are then temporarily joined by Barbie, a waitress obsessed with Barbie dolls. Alice leaves to visit the Cherokee Nation in person; the others travel to Seattle, where Barbie leaves them. Taylor works a variety of jobs, but has difficulty earning enough money to pay for everything.

Annawake, who lives near Heaven, OK (near Tahlequah), strongly suspects that she knows who Turtle's biological grandfather is. It comes out that Alice grew up with a man named Sugar Hornbuckle, her second cousin, who now lives in Heaven as well. He helps Alice meet Annawake, who has found Turtle's grandfather - Cash Stillwater - and rapidly schemes to matchmake Cash and Alice.

In the end, Taylor and Turtle come to Heaven, and establish a compromise, sharing custody of Turtle between Taylor and Cash.

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