A Chapter 1
In the first chapter of Animal Dreams, Dr. Homer Noline gazes on his two young daughters, Cosima and Halimeda, as they sleep curled up close together. It is early November, the Night of All Souls in the Christian liturgical calendar.
B Chapter 2
This chapter jumps forward in time and is narrated by Codi, the name by which Cosima is known. After a fourteen-year absence she is returning to her hometown of Grace, Arizona, to work as a schoolteacher and care for her sick father. Previously, she had been living with her boyfriend, Carlo, and her sister, Hallie, in Tucson, Arizona. Soon after Hallie left for war-torn Nicaragua to help develop agriculture, Codi decided to move also. But as she walks the streets of Grace, she feels like a stranger.
C Chapter 3
This chapter is told from the point of view of Doc Homer, the name by which Dr. Homer Noline is known. Doc Homer thinks back to a time when Hallie and Codi were young children and were missing during a storm. They were rescued from a washed-open coyote burrow, nursing seven pups they wanted to save.
D Chapters 4-7
In Grace, Codi stays with Emelina, her friend from high school, who has five young boys. Codi recalls the last time she saw Hallie and the close relationship they had always enjoyed. She also catches up on all that has happened in Grace over the previous fourteen years. Although the town is full of memories, she still feels like an outsider. She recalls the day her mother died, when Codi was three years old, and her own loss of a baby to a miscarriage when she was fifteen. The father was Loyd Peregrina, a part-Apache, part-Pueblo high school senior.
At a Labor Day weekend party, Codi meets Loyd, who is now a railroad engineer, and listens to a group of old men talking about how Black Mountain Mining Company is polluting the nearby river.
E Chapters 8-9
Codi visits her father for the first time in two years. He is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. They communicate little, and Doc refuses to discuss his illness.
Codi begins teaching biology at the high school and also discovers the Stitch and Bitch Club, a sewing group who are holding a meeting in Emelina’s house. Codi receives a letter from Hallie, mailed from southern Mexico. It is full of characteristically detailed observations. Codi and Loyd begin talking, and Loyd reveals that he had a twin brother, Leander, who died at the age of fifteen. He invites Codi to accompany him on a business trip.
F Chapter 10
Doc Homer lies on his examining table in his office in the hospital basement. He is confused and can no longer distinguish between past and present. He thinks of fifteen-year-old Codi, knowing she is pregnant but having no idea of how to talk to her about it.
G Chapters 11-12
Codi’s trip with Loyd gets postponed, but Codi discovers that one of his interests is cockfighting. Codi sees Loyd frequently but convinces herself their relationship is only a casual one. She takes her students on a field trip to the river, which she finds to be extremely polluted. Viola tells her of Black Mountain’s plan to divert the river, so as not to flout Environmental Protection Agency regulations. But, diverting the river will destroy Grace because there will be no water to nourish the orchards.
Loyd takes Codi on a trip to the Apache reservation and then to Kinishba, an 800-year-old Pueblo stone dwelling that contains 200 small rooms-a whole village under one roof.
H Chapter 13
Doc Homer is again lost in his memories, and his mind slides from the present to the past. He remembers the day Codi suffered a miscarriage. She emerged from the bathroom carrying a bundle wrapped in a black sweater. Doc Homer followed her outside and watched as she disposed of the dead baby. He did not tell her that he had observed her, or even that he knew she was pregnant.
I Chapter 14
A pregnant student drops out of school, and Codi teaches her students about birth control. After hearing from a local resident about Doc Homer’s failing memory, she asks to take care of him, but he insists he is fine. Codi celebrates Halloween by going trick-or-treating with Emelina’s children and then joins the whole community to celebrate the Mexican Day of the Dead, in which everyone converges on the cemetery and tends family graves. Codi finds a grave marked Homero Nolina, and wonders why his name is so similar to her father’s since she believes the family came from Illinois.
J Chapter 15
Doc Homer is disturbed by a visit from Codi, who asks whether they have relatives in Grace. Doc Homer’s mind once again plays tricks on him and drifts back to images of Codi as a child.
K Chapters 16-19
Codi speaks to the Stitch and Bitch Club about the pollution of the river, and the women decide to mount a mass demonstration against Black Mountain. Codi receives a distressing letter from Hallie, describing how three girls in Nicaragua were killed by gunfire. Loyd takes Codi to watch cockfights in which his own birds participate, but after Codi protests, he agrees to give up the sport.
In December Codi travels to Tucson with the Stitch and Bitch Club, who sell their homemade peacock pinatas to raise funds. Codi visits Carlo, who tries to persuade her to move to Colorado with him. She spends Christmas with Loyd on the Navajo reservation, where Loyd shows her an ancient village built into the cliff. In the Jemez Mountains in New Mexico, they bathe in volcanic hot springs, and Loyd takes her to visit his family in a Pueblo village. On Christmas Day, they watch Pueblo dances.
L Chapter 20
Doc Homer receives a telephone call informing him that Hallie has been kidnapped in Nicaragua. He is confused and for a while does not understand what has happened.
M Chapters 21-23
Distraught at Hallie’s kidnapping, Codi gives her students an impassioned lecture about preserving the environment. She also confronts Doc Homer about the origins of his family, but he refuses to acknowledge the truth. Meanwhile, the campaign against Black Mountain by the Stitch and Bitch Club draws media attention.
Hearing nothing from Hallie, Codi desperately writes letters to anyone of importance. Sean Rideheart, an art dealer from Tucson, tells the Stitch and Bitch Club they can save Grace by putting it on the National Register of Historic Places.
Doc Homer’s condition deteriorates, but he confesses to Codi the truth about his family. He had covered up his origins because the Nolina family had a bad reputation in the town.
In a dream, Codi learns how to let go of the haunting memory of the child she lost.
N Chapters 24-26
Codi is informed that Hallie has been murdered by her kidnappers. Numbed by grief, she decides to leave Grace and rejoin Carlo. She takes a flight to Denver, but the plane has engine trouble and has to return to Tucson. Codi is relieved to get back on the ground. The shock of the flight makes her alter her plans, and she decides to remain in Grace with Loyd.
O Chapter 27
Codi buries some of Hallie’s things, and Doc Homer’s mind goes back to her burial of her baby at the riverbed. Then he thinks that Codi is Alice, his dead wife. Although he seems unable to distinguish between Codi and Hallie, he feels a deep love for both.
P Chapter 28
At least two years have elapsed. Doc Homer has died and is buried with the rest of his family. On All Souls Day in November, Viola takes Codi, who is now pregnant by Loyd, to the place where she watched her dead mother taken away by helicopter, over 30 years ago