By LARRY BALLWAHN | Wilton

Perhaps you already know that “Demon Copperhead’’ is an Oprah’s Book Club selection. Much is made about the relationship of Kingsolver’s book to Charles Dickens’ “David Copperfield.” It is not necessary to have read Dickens’ book to appreciate Kingsolver’s. Since many of the reviews say Kingsolver’s book falls short of “David Copperfield,” you may want to read it, but it is certainly not necessary to understand “Demon Copperhead,” which highlights many current issues.

Demon was born Damon Fields to a single mother who was an addict. He gained the name used because of his red hair and the nickname given by classmates. Demon is the narrator of the story set in southwest Virginia, Appalachia. Early in the book he tries to take care of his mother. His close friend is Maggot, Matt Peggot, grandson of Mr. and Mrs. Peggot, who befriended Demon and his mother. When Demon’s mother overdoses, he wants to move in with the Peggots. They feel they are too old, and, besides, they have their hands full with Maggot.

The foster care system did not treat Demon well. Big for his age, he worked sorting junk and later for a farmer. Both foster placements were gaming the system. Running away, he made his way to his grandmother on his father’s side. She used her connections to place him with the coach of the Lee County football team. Coach was a hero in Lee County due to all the wins by his team, the Generals. He saw a future tight end in Demon. His daughter, Agnes, was now known as Angus by everyone. Demon had first thought Angus was a boy, and then she became his friend, adviser, and confidant.

The Coach was not wrong about Demon becoming a tight end. Catching passes as he did, he was soon a star for the Generals. That lasted only until he got his leg busted up. The adjustment to not playing was bad; the pain was worse. The team doctor put him on opioids. Soon he was hooked. It wasn’t the high he was after; he didn’t want the pain, and he just didn’t want to be sick. Also, he was trying to use his leg.

Demon had an exceptional talent besides football. He could draw and draw well. His specialty was cartoons, and he created panels called “Red Neck” with his friend, Tommy.

The strip paid some bills, but the drug problems remained, as did woman problems. He was now involved with a young woman who also had drug problems, so his situation seemed hopeless.

His art ultimately was the mechanism that lifted him out of the mire that he had himself in; that, and another person. Read the book; it’s worth the effort.

One of the reviews ends, “ ‘Demon Copperhead’ speaks for a new generation of lost boys, and all those born into beautiful, cursed places they can’t imagine leaving behind.” Appalachia is such a place; can you think of another?