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The Bean Trees

by Barbara Kingsolver
Our price: LBP 202,000Available
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Product Details

  • Publisher: Abacus
  • Publishing date: 01/03/2001
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9780349114170
  • ISBN: 034911417X

Synopsis

Plucky Taylor Greer grows up poor in rural Kentucky with two goals: to avoid pregnancy and to get away. She succeeds on both counts when she buys an old car and heads west. But midway across the country motherhood catches up with her when she becomes the guardian of an abandoned baby girl she calls Turtle. In Tuscon they encounter an extraordinary array of people, and with their help, Taylor builds herself and her sweet, stunned child a life.

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  • Great first novel
    From Amazon

    This was Kingsolver's first novel. At first I felt disappointed that the writing was not as poetic and lyrical as in PRODIGAL SUMMER, but then realized that that type of writing would not have fit this story. It needed to be gritty and real. I thoroughly enjoyed this story of a young woman's coming into her own and deciding what was important to her. I'm looking forward to the sequel, PIGS IN HEAVEN.

  • a simple pleasure
    From Amazon

    I just re-visited this book...I tend to do that with favorites. It is a non-traditional family tale about a woman finding her way...including a move from Kentucky to Arizona, the "adoption" or a child, and the forming of new roots. It is told in a simple but lovely prose. I tend to pick slightly more "literary" novels but this is a reliable, easy read that always warms the insides.

  • Heartwarming Novel from Kingsolver
    From Amazon

    Taylor Greer grew up in a town in rural Kentucky where the most expected out of most girls was to get pregnant early, marry the fathers of their illegitimate babies, and then raise those babies to do exactly the same things they did. Our protagonist refuses to succumb to this future, and finds work in a hospital, saving up enough money to buy a broken-down VW bug that has no windows and requires a special procedure to start. She decides to leave her dump town and drive across the United States without ever looking back. In central Oklahoma her car breaks down, prompting Taylor to stop at a shabby diner. On her way out, the most curious thing happens to her: she's given a Native American baby. Stuck in the middle of nowhere with a baby that isn't hers, Taylor has no choice but to take the child and keep on moving. Taylor and Turtle, as she eventually names the baby, end up in Tuscon, Arizona, where they meet Mattie, owner of a tire/repair garage that functions as a front for a modern-day Underground Railroad, and Lou Ann, a young mother with troubles of her own. Usually I'm not the biggest fan of vernacular or writers who write first-person and give their characters all sorts of cute, homey, country-ish slang and drawls. It just wears on me and I get tired of it. However Kingsolver made Taylor, the book's narrator, refreshing and easy to read for even myself, and instead of getting annoyed at Taylor, I enjoyed her voice. The Bean Trees might seem to be just another "journey-to-find-yourself" book what with Taylor's drive across America and meeting of new friends, but it also deals with some serious subjects. Something happened to Turtle a long time ago, something bad and unspeakable, and contributes to the child's dead, staring eyes and inability to make contact or respond to normal human interaction in the first few weeks that Taylor has her. In Arizona, Taylor meets Estevan and Esperanza, two refugees who barely escaped from their native Guatemala to Mattie's safe house. I have read The Poisonwood Bible before and know that Kingsolver is a pretty big name in modern American literature, but I had no idea The Bean Trees was her first novel until after I finished reading it. Good one to start out with.

  • Great Character, Good Book
    From Amazon

    "The Bean Trees" makes for a nice summer read. Kingsolver's remarkably evocative prose swept me up into the lives of her characters. Taylor, Lue Anne, Matty, Turtle, Estevan, Experanza, and the rest of the characters were so well drawn that they seemed like real people. The characters and Kingsolver's penchant for using wildly creative imagery are the best parts of this novel, which--as enjoyable as it was--sometimes verged on preachiness. The novel is about Taylor's... unconventional adoption of a little girl named Turtle. A Native American woman leaves the abused little girl with our confused protagonist, who spends the rest of the novel pretty much winging it. There's not a lot of plot until the end, when she has to find a way to legally adopt Turtle while transporting Esteban and Esperanza, two illegal immigrants, to a sanctuary. The end is certainly the best part of the novel, as these four characters (Taylor, Turtle, Estevan, and Esperanza) all have such strange and potent relationships with each other. The book does, however, suffer from a bit of preachiness. It simplifies immigration issues and, as a person who has no real solid political standing on the issue, I felt Kingsolver using her characters as a tool to try to force her own opinion. At first it seemed subtle and organic, which I liked, because of COURSE a writer's novel will be influenced by their beliefs, but a few of the conversations between the character degraded into preachy ramblings. Aside from that, I did find the opening of the book rather inconsistent. Aside from two chapters in the third-person that give us back story on Lue Anne, the entire book is a first-person account of Taylor's journey. These two Lue Anne chapters make it seem as if the book will be equally about Taylor and Lue Anne, but it turned out that these two chapters were utterly random. Instead of cleverly inserting Lue Anne's backstory from Taylor's perspective, the way she did with every other character, Kingsolver added two needless chapters to the book that shattered the consistency of the narrative. The book, aside from those chapters, is Taylor relating her tale to the reader in a conversational tone. The Lue Anne chapters (2 & 4) are bafflingly jarring. Aside from my issues, it was a good book. I'm not sure that I'd ever go back and re-read it, but I liked the characters enough that I'd consider tackling the follow-up, Pigs in Heaven. Taylor is especially well-drawn, a ballsy girl with a smart mouth, a big heart, and the integrity to know that nothing is impossible for her. Great character, good book. 7/10

  • My first venture into a Kingsolver novel.
    From Amazon

    I picked up The Bean Trees on a whim. I remembered some vague references to Barbara Kingsolver being a good writer and I thought I would give it a shot. While it probably wouldn't be my first choice of books under different circumstances and given a wider selection of material, I am now convinced of her ability to tell a story. Perhaps this is sacrilege, but I found The Bean Trees to be in the same vein as Steel Magnolias or Fried Green Tomatoes. Kingsolver introduces a cast of characters whose lives become woven together through a series of misfortunes, misadventures, and random happenstance. The story centers on Missy, a Kentucky teen who sets out in search of a new life. Missy, who decides that she is better suited for the name Taylor, sets off to find a new place to settle down. After a short stop in Oklahoma, where Taylor somehow ends up the caretaker of a mysterious toddler dubbed Turtle, she ultimately decides to settle down in New Mexico. Without giving away too much of the story, Taylor takes up a job at Jesus is Lord Used Tires and works to build a makeshift family with newly acquired companion Lou Ann and her son Dwayne Ray. The book relays an odd series of emotional twists and turns, but manages to do so in a light and humorous way. The journey through Kingsolver's story is difficult at times as each of the characters struggle with their own forms of loss or their own needs for acceptance. The Bean Trees explores the concept of family outside of the traditional context and tells a remarkable story about the importance of friendship in times of need. As I said before, books like The Bean Trees normally wouldn't make my top picks, but Kingsolver has a very engaging form of writing that makes a wide depth of emotional experiences captivating. The story explores concepts of friendship and family that are far outside the norm, but are in many ways similar to the ways that we experience them. I would definitely recommend the title.

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