The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver was originally published in 1988. My paperback copy is 323 pages long. The Bean Trees was Kingsolver's debut novel and you can clearly see her gift for writing. Although her talent is more evident in her subsequent novels, Prodigal Summer and The Poisonwood Bible to name two, this was still a fine story. I recommend it.
Feisty Marietta Greer changes her name to "Taylor" when her car runs out of gas in Taylorville, Ill. By the time she reaches Oklahoma, this strong-willed young Kentucky native with a quick tongue and an open mind is catapulted into a surprising new life. Taylor leaves home in a beat-up '55 Volkswagen bug, on her way to nowhere in particular, savoring her freedom. But when a forlorn Cherokee woman drops a baby in Taylor's passenger seat and asks her to take it, she does. A first novel, The Bean Trees is an overwhelming delight, as random and unexpected as real life. The unmistakable voice of its irresistible heroine is whimsical, yet deeply insightful. Taylor playfully names her little foundling "Turtle," because she clings with an unrelenting, reptilian grip; at the same time, Taylor aches at the thought of the silent, staring child's past suffering. With Turtle in tow, Taylor lands in Tucson, Ariz., with two flat tires and decides to stay. The desert climate, landscape and vegetation are completely foreign to Taylor, and in learning to love Arizona, she also comes face to face with its rattlesnakes and tarantulas. Similarly, Taylor finds that motherhood, responsibility and independence are thorny, if welcome, gifts. This funny, inspiring book is a marvelous affirmation of risk-taking, commitment and everyday miracles.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"I have been afraid of putting air in a tire ever since I saw a tractor tire blow up and throw Newt Hardbine's father over the top of the Standard Oil sign. I'm not lying. He got stuck up there."
"Lou Ann made the baptism decision purely for practical reasons: if one of the grandmothers was going to have a conniption, it might as well be the one who was eighteen hundred miles away rather than the one who lived right across town."
"Sometimes I feel like a foreigner too. I come from a place that's so different from here you would think you'd stepped right off the map into some other country where they use dirt for decoration and the national pastime is having babies. People don't look the same, talk the same, nothing."
"Don't ignore it then... Talk back to it. Say, 'You can't do that number on me you...' or something like that. Otherwise it kind of weasels its way into your head whether you like it or not."
"I realized that I had come to my own terms with the desert, but my soul was thirsty."