The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver

Cover ImageFinished 1-20-10, rating 4.5/5. fiction, pub. 1988

The first was that I would get myself a new name.  I wasn’t crazy about anything I had been called up to that point in life, and this seemed like the time to make a clean break.  I didn’t have any special name in mind, but just wanted a change.  The more I thought about it, the more it seemed to me that a name is not something a person really had the right to pick out, but is something you’re provided with more or less by chance.  I decided to let the gas tank decide.  Wherever it ran out, I’d look for a sign.

I can pretty close to being named after Homer, Illinois, but kept pushing it.

Chapter 1

 Missy was anxious to escape her dead-end life in her small Kentucky town without a baby or a man.  Soon after graduation she headed west and made it as far as Tuscan, but somewhere along the way she changed her name to Taylor and was given a toddler in a diner parking lot.  In Tuscan she makes a life for herself and baby Turtle with a few close friends, a job at Jesus is Lord Used Tires, and a respect for the desert. 

This was told mostly from the eyes of Taylor and while I appreciated her spunk it took awhile for her to grown on me.  I did not understand her accepting the baby in the parking lot and then keeping her when she had no home, no job, and no money.  One her main points of pride was getting out of Kentucky without getting pregnant so the decision made no sense to me.

I was much more drawn to the insecure Lu Ann whose motivations I could at least understand.  Hers is the story that kept me interested until about halfway through.  And then a great thing happened.  I couldn’t read fast enough.  As much as Taylor had a few too many sharp edges for me at the beginning it was exciting to watch her grow as a character and I was surprised to find that she had grown on me.  The friends that surrounded her were just as important to the story as she was. 

This was beautifully written and a story that will stay with me.  I was totally captivated by its honesty and sense of friendship and family.  What makes a family?  This delightful novel will help you decide.

This is from my personal library and was chosen by Golda and Amanda.  Here’s what Golda had to say…”I loved that book.”

27 thoughts on “The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver

    • stacybuckeye says:

      For some reason The Poisonwood Bible is not calling my name even though I’ve enjoyed a few of her other books. I’ll let your review decide for me 🙂

  1. veens says:

    Yeah, accepting a toddler when you didn’t want to become preg in the 1st place sounds a bit weird to me too! But this sounds like a good book nevertheless!

  2. Bumbles says:

    I only read The Poisonwood Bible – it took some getting used to and then it too took off for me. Must be the way she writes. I love that opening quote you chose.

  3. Wanda says:

    Sounds like a book that takes a little time to warm up to. I wasn’t all that engrossed in The Poisonwood Bible in the first few chapters but the book remains one of my all time favourites. Glad to hear this one is also a satisfying read.

  4. Margot says:

    This is one of my all-time favorite books. I’ve re-read it several times. Your review reminds me that I need to do that again. This was Kingsolver’s debut novel. She followed it up with Pigs In Heaven which also includes Taylor and Turtle. Together, the books made me a huge Kingsolver fan.

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