The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

View from this book:

I went adventuring all day in Borneo in a silly, fun sit-on-top kayak:

It started out like this.

It started out like this.

And then it ended up like this.

And then it ended up like this.

Which was awesome.  After I got back to the hostel and drip-dried (cheap hostel = hose shower + no towel), I flopped down on the camp bed and cracked open this book.

The book:

This is a warm story about the beautiful absurdity of life, about mothers and daughters, and about the human condition.  This book reminded me of many magical realist short stories; there is a sense of bemused amazement that permeates the book that’s infectious.  We follow the characters through life’s unexpected twists and turns, and fall in love with all of them along the way.  Mini-synopsis: The heroine begins with giving us readers a clear-eyed account of Kentucky and her desire to leave it.  She eventually does, driving West and searching for a new place to begin.  Somewhere in Oklahoma, somebody gives her a baby.  In a blurb like this, saying “somebody gives her a baby” just sounds trite and soap-opera-y.  Kingsolver, wordsmith extraordinaire, is anything but trite, and this baby turns out to be the most central, most joyous part of the whole book.  This new ersatz-mom stops driving in Tuscon due to other random circumstances, and there her new life (+ baby) begins, and she starts to learn about the mixed misery and joy that humans put each other through.  8 out of 10.

The Bean Trees



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