the wonderful world of veena.

06 February 2015

book number three of 2015: the bean trees [barbara kingsolver]

These last few weeks I finally got around to reading a  book I've had on my list for close to 5 years: The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver. I first saw it in a used bookstore in Bangalore late in 2010, but already having too many books to read before moving back to the States, I had to pass on the urge to pick it up [not easy]. Last summer I found a Kindle version for cheap, so I bought it quickly and saved it for when I was ready to dive into it.

The Bean Trees is the story of Taylor, a girl determined to grow up and escape Pittman County, Kentucky. By avoiding getting pregnant in high school, and by getting a job and saving her money, she was able to leave when she was 23, heading west with no final destination in mind.

Along the way she sort of inherits a small child, whom she names Turtle, and they eventually find themselves in Tuscon. There she befriends a newly single mother - also originally from small-town Kentucky - and together they learn to survive and thrive in a foreign place.

Taylor and her makeshift family face a number of triumphs and fails, and The Bean Trees tells the story of how they pull together to take care of one another and ensure everyone's health and well-being, even when facing difficult odds and difficult situations.

Their mettle is especially tested after an incident brings certain truths to light, and Kingsolver deftly portrays how they band together to solve their problem. I love the underlying theme of finding family in the most unexpected of places and how often it is those people who will help you out no matter what when you're in trouble.

I didn't realize until I finished the book that The Bean Trees was Kingsolver's first novel. Her talent is immediately apparent, and her abilities as a storyteller are extraordinary. And while this book certainly differs greatly from The Poisonwood Bible, her most famous work and a particular favourite of mine, it is by no means a less great work.

I also just found out that Kingsolver actually wrote a sort of follow-up from the viewpoint of Turtle, so I will be adding that to my collection one day soon.

next up: The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls. I loved her first book, The Glass Castle, and I can't wait to delve into this one.

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