Animal Dreams is the story of Cosima "Codi" Noline, a biology teacher who returns to her birthplace in Grace, Arizona to care for her ailing father. The novel deals with Codi's acceptance of her father's progressive Alzheimer's, the town's battle with a mining company, and tensions between Natives, legal and illegal immigrants, and American citizens. Codi feels isolated in town due to events in her childhood and youth, such as the miscarriage of hers and her high school boyfriend's child, but she eventually acclimates and returns permanently.
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