Settle in: this is a whole world, a lifetime. Traveling is complicated, but once you arrive, you get it. You remember why you love Kingsolver: she tells things simply, but in the most epic way possible. Harrison Shepherd composes this story–from the age of 13 until he’s famous–Kingsolver uses his voice as a growing writer to depict the story. This alone makes the novel brilliant–the commentary on writing and language sneaks in over and over. Shepherd lands a job on a whim, cooking and mixing plaster for Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. Here’s the second reason this novel is brilliant–it’s like a film from the point of view of an extra in the cast. Soon Shepherd is Kahlo’s confidant. One time, when he and Kahlo are having a picnic, Kahlo tries to convince him that he is a writer, even without readers. She says, “I’m no painter…who ever looks at my dumb little pieces of shit?” Kingsolver manages to turn icons back into absolute human beings. The diary-form settles into a rhythm the way a soundtrack can make a film really work. There’s so much here: history, politics, art, and yet, the whole book seems focused on small important moments: meals, poetic advice, seeing the whole ocean through goggles.