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The story reflects in horrific truth what was actually unfolding under the Argentinian dictatorship in the 1970's. How courageous of the author to undertake in a first novel such a situation which also reflects the reality of challenges of our Indigineous Culture in North America.
It took me a bit to get into the "Bean Trees" but by one third the of way through I was hooked. Tyler, Turtle and friends are out of the ordinary people on an journey not planned whom you soon become attached. Kingsolver's writing style grows and is extraordinary by the end. I signed out "Pigs in heaven" the sequel as soon as I finished.
Funny and touching and painful and affirming. Not a word is wasted in the writing in this novel. Kingsolver's use of language in story-telling is masterful. Her characters are real and flawed and lovable.
The protagonist, Marietta Greer, is a tiny-town Kentucky girl raised by a strong single mother who kept body and soul together through housecleaning work.
Wanting something more for her life than she can find in her hometown, Marietta works and saves her money until she has enough to buy a mostly-running car. Then she sets off driving west, ending up in Tucson.
By the time she arrives there, she's changed her name to Taylor and received the surprise gift of a non-verbal toddler, a little girl she calls Turtle. Taylor makes a home with another single mom, while landing a job at Jesus is Lord Used Tires, also a stop on the underground railroad for Guatemalan refugees(It's the 1980s.) She learns that the world can be both a whole lot worse and a whole lot better than she'd ever known.
I read this book as a novel study for one of my students it was better than I anticipated. I enjoyed the characters and story lines. I enjoyed seeing the characters develop from the beginning to end. It was a simple read and enjoyable.
I picked this up a few years ago, needing 'anything' to read and found it to be much better than I had expected. Very funny in places and I'll try another by Kingsolver, maybe Pigs because it sounds like Part II
This was a sweet story, no doubt. But there wasn't as much substance to it as I was hoping there would be after reading The Poisonwood Bible. I know this was her first novel as opposed to when she had developed her craft more in Poisonwood, but I guess I expected more. Also despite it being a short novel, I wasn't able to read it quickly. The story and style of writing in this reminded me of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, with the Southern-type charm and slight humor, but I actually like Fried Green Tomatoes more. I know the story continues in another book, but I am completely fine ending it right here.
This wouldn't be a highly recommended novel, but I would recommend it for those who want a light read for the summertime or in the dreary months of winter.
Kinsgslover's first novel is good, but nowhere near her masterpiece, "The Posionwood Bible." Followed by "Pigs in Heaven."
I have yet to be disappointed with a Kingsolver book. Reading BEAN TREES was fun for me because I could relate to so much of Taylor's trip to maturity. Kingsolver seems to have the ability to pull you in and welcomes you to be a character in her story. However, I don't think she can possibly outdo the first two books I read by her: PRODIGAL SUMMER and FLIGHT BEHAVIOR.
This is one of my new all-time favorite books. Kingsolver writes in a way that I have never seen any other author do: she is able to mix the diction and structure of small-town, rural language with the most vast and eye opening descriptions. She writes honestly and in a way that I can relate to. This story is heartwarming and full of human struggle, collaboration, family, and friendship. Absolutely wonderful.
"First published 15 years ago, The Bean Trees was Barbara Kingsolver's first novel. It tells the story of a poor Kentucky woman determined to make a better life for herself. While headed west, Taylor is approached by a Cherokee woman, who leaves a baby in the passenger seat of her car. Moved by the baby's fierce grip, Taylor names her "Turtle;" they begin a new life together in Tucson, where Taylor's car eventually breaks down. An "overwhelming delight" (Publishers Weekly) despite themes of child abuse and other social ills, this tale of creating a family out of nothing was followed by a sequel, Pigs in Heaven." August 2013 Fiction A to Z newsletter http://www.nextreads.com/Display2.aspx?SID=5acc8fc1-4e91-4ebe-906d-f8fc5e82a8e0&N=667162
Well it was a toss up between this book and "The Help". Read a chapter from both, couldn't decide which was better, so went with this one first, as it was shorter! Started it June 30, 2013......July 4, almost finished, a great book and my favorite Kingsolver so far. (Others by her that I have read are Lacuna and The Poisenwood Bilble)....Oh, just read the other comments, and found that "Pigs in Heaven" is a sequel to this one....guess I'll be reading that soon!.......July 8, 2013, just finished this today, got to listening to a talking book ("The Water is Wide," by Pat Conroy) on the 6th, so didn't really "read" that day. Thoroughly enjoyed this book. A great read, but it did kind of wrap up kind of quickly.
Even though this novel was written over twenty years ago, its humanist theme is timeless, and its depiction of how our country treats outsiders is as relevant as ever. That Kingsolver has wrapped up such a serious message in the package of a quick, surprisingly funny read is amazing.
Loved this book. A bit different from the other Kingsolver novels I've read. All of the characters have rough edges and make, at times, unwise choices, but they are colorful, well developed, and you are pulling for them throughout the novel. The dialogue is witty and I found myself laughing out loud several times. These characters are not comic, however, as all are faced with difficult, even life threatening, situations and challenges throughout the novel, right up until the end. I gave this book to my husband, and he is enjoying it as much as I did.
Picked this up at the airport to read on a flight. It kept my attention and I finished it when I returned home. Some of the reviews say it's "funny." I found it more of a story of life and learning a lesson. I did enjoy it, but don't think I'll read it again. I will donate to the library.
I had picked this book up a couple of times over the years but never got it read. Finally did after reading Poisonwood Bible. Good book with a message that there are all kinds of families and that no matter where you go, there you are:)
I read Barbara Kingsolver's "The Poisonwood Bible" and quite liked it, but this novel I found rather disappointing. There wasn't much "meat" to the story. I did read the whole thing but kept waiting for it to "get into" the story deeper and the author never did...Too fluffy....
When Taylor Greer was traveling west, she stopped at a diner and was furtively given a small girl bundled in blankets. Taylor got as far as Tucson before she needed new tires, which she couldn't afford. She got a job at a tire shop run by Mattie, and she and the little girl Turtle roomed with Lou Ann and her baby son. The women form a bond of friendship which sustains them through their trials. Kingsolver makes the characters real, and her writing has depth and strength. This was her first book.
This is a very easy and beautiful book to read. The main character is a young girl who through the influence of her mother becomes a strong person with well defined morals and sense of self. As many of the authors characters this one is unconventional but easy to love. I reread this book every few years when I feel the need for a book that will simplify life and and warm my heart.
One of my favorite authors and books.
I've read almost all of Kingsolver and love all her books. It's nice to read about people being nice to others.
This book is about developing symbiotic relationships with other people and consequently finding unexpected resources in seemingly barren places.