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Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

Bean Trees (original 1988; edition 2001)

by Barbara Kingsolver

Series: Turtle (1)

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7,367130477 (3.94)317
Title:Bean Trees
Authors:Barbara Kingsolver
Info:Abacus (2001), Paperback, 232 pages
Collections:Your library, Favorites
Tags:American Fiction

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The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver (1988)


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Really enjoyable book on families of all kinds. ( )
  The_reading_swimmer | Jun 21, 2015 |
This is the prequel to Pigs in Heaven which I read first. It tells the story of Taylor Greer who made the decision to leave the Appalachian town where she was reared. She has escaped the teen pregnancy that has captured the lives and future of many of her class mates, but she understands that before long she will be captive of the region's way of life. She strikes out for the west in a broken down VW (and by way of escape adopts the name Taylor as a way of leaving her life behind). Along the way she stops in Oklahoma for a meal and when returning to her car finds a toddler in the back seat, abandoned by a woman who pleads with her to take the child. She names the child "Turtle";it's evident the child is native American. She motors on to Arizona where her car breaks down. Needing repairs she cannot pay for, she meets Mattie, the owner of the "Jesus is Lord" tire store. Mattie takes her in and gives her employment. Mattie is involved with a network that provides sanctuary for illegals working to get them out of Arizona. Taylor moves in with Lou Ann and they form a sort of family with the child.

She worries about the status of the child and decides to return to Oklahoma to try and officially adopt the child. She takes two of the illegal immigrants along with her with the idea of settling them in Oklahoma where they might be able to pass as Indians.

While it's plain that the child is a native American from the nearby Cherokee nation, Taylor obtains a quasi-legal adoption from a social worker in the area. This questionable proceeding will form the basis of all kinds of complications in the next story.

The novel centers around culture in our country and, in Taylor's circumstances, what it means to escape from one and seek to integrate into another. It is, of course, a journey of personal transformation and about establishing connections in manifestly different ways that one's life experience. Taylor in a very different way then might be expected given the cultural norms she grew up with goes about finding new non-traditional but clearly family-like relationships. ( )
  stevesmits | Oct 31, 2014 |
As with other Kingsolver books I've read, the narrative of The Bean Trees meanders a bit before finding its stride. It takes its time deciding if the story is about Taylor (the narrator), Lou Ann, Turtle or the other characters who populate this fictional corner of Tuscon Arizona. At the half way point, the story finally focuses squarely on Turtle. It's at that point that the book goes from being something to be read slowly, savoring each chapter, to something to be read in one sitting. While the first half took me about a month to read, the second half took me three hours. I'm glad I stuck with it. ( )
  pussreboots | Sep 14, 2014 |
There is something about Barbara Kingsolver's work that just appeals to my reading sensibilities. Her novels always just feel like they are right in my reading groove. I seem to be reading her backwards - starting with her more recent work, and making my way back to this, her first novel. It's interesting to see how she has progressed as a novelist, and also recognize the common elements in her work. This novel certainly has her signature strong female protagonists, as well as her commentary on some aspect of social justice. This book is very much about the need for finding a community, and the importance of family - your own, or the one you choose. I'm excited to find out that Kingsolver has written more books about the Greer family - I look forward to reading them. ( )
  NeedMoreShelves | Aug 13, 2014 |
The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver; (4*)

Barbra Kingsolver really keeps this, her first novel, alive with her always excellent style and the strong themes that are evident throughout the book. Her weaknesses here are her character developments and a weak plot. Overall this was a very enjoyable read and it kept me entertained to the point of laughing out loud & waking my husband many times while reading it.

The book starts out with a very catching tale of a girl named Taylor preparing to go out on her own right out of high school with very little money . After that the author keeps it interesting by combining the story of Lou Ann's character with that of Taylor so that eventually their paths cross. Kingsolver throws many things into the story that both Lou Ann and Taylor have to deal with such as an abandoned baby, a one-legged rodeo husband, and illegal refugees that affect everyone's lives. This story keeps you entertained and is a joy to read.

The author uses a strong family theme throughout the story and adapts it to fit with the characters. The theme of family isn't the normal one. It shows that you don't have to be related to people to love and care for them and consider them your family. She uses two examples of this type of family in her story. First we learn of Lou Ann, Taylor, Duwayne Ray, and Turtle. They all love and depend on one another and consider themselves to be a family. We also learn of Mattie, Esperanza, Estevan, and all the other illegal refugees who live in Mattie's apartment. They care for one another and take care of each other just like a normal family would. Kingsolver uses imagination and style to keep the story entertaining and upbeat. She keeps it flowing and makes it easy to read. She uses realistic dialect to make the characters come alive and to make them seem real. She also uses figurative language like similies and extended metaphors to indirectly help the reader understand what is going on.

Then too, she uses symbolism to represent certain parts of the story that she finds important. She uses the song sparrow to represent Turtle and to show what developments she might make throughout the course of the book. Her style is her best feature through the course of this book. Most of the main characters go through major changes throughout the course of the story. Lou Ann changes from having very low self-esteem to being more confident and believing in herself. Taylor, a major character in this book, develops a sense of independence and feelings of love for her new family. Turtle is maybe the most dynamic character in the story. She goes from being completely untalkative to being like a normal little kid. Over all the characters seemed real and true. This story was entertaining and interesting.

I loved it and highly recommend it. ( )
2 vote rainpebble | Jul 26, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 130 (next | show all)
Barbara Kingsolver can write. On any page of this accomplished first novel, you can find a striking image or fine dialogue or a telling bit of drama.

» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Barbara Kingsolverprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Critt, C.J.Narratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Desimini, LisaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Noli, SuzanneCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pearce, SusanAuthor photosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Annie and Joe
For Ismene, and all the mothers who have lost her (10th Anniversary Edition)
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I have been afraid of putting air in a tire ever since I saw a tractor tire blow up and throw Newt Hardbines's father over the top of the Standard Oil sign.
I mean, we've got to live in the exact same world every damn day of the week, don't we?
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Meet Taylor Greet. Clear-eyed and spirited, she grew up poor in rural Kentucky with two goals: to avoid pregnancy and to get away. She succeeds on both counts when she buys a 55 Volkswagen and heads west. But by the time our plucky if unlikely heroine pulls up on the outskirts of Tucson, Arizona, at an auto repair shop called Jesus is Lord Used Tires that also happens to be a sanctuary for Central American refugees, she's "inherited" a three-year-old American Indian girl named Turtle. What follows - as Taylor meets the human condition head-on - is at theheart of this memorable novel about love and friendship, abandonment and belonging, and the discovery of surprising resources in apparently empty places.

Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061097314, Mass Market Paperback)

Clear-eyed and spirited, Taylor Greer grew up poor in rural Kentucky with the goals of avoiding pregnancy and getting away. But when she heads west with high hopes and a barely functional car, she meets the human condition head-on. By the time Taylor arrives in Tucson, Arizona, she has acquired a completely unexpected child, a three-year-old American Indian girl named Turtle, and must somehow come to terms with both motherhood and the necessity for putting down roots. Hers is a story about love and friendship, abandonment and belonging, and the discovery of surprising resources in apparently empty places.

Available for the first time in mass-market, this edition of Barbara Kingsolver's bestselling novel, The Bean Trees, will be in stores everywhere in September. With two different but equally handsome covers, this book is a fine addition to your Kingsolver library.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:52 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Taylor, a poor Kentuckian, makes her way west with an abandoned baby girl and stops in Tucson. There, she finds friends and discovers resources in apparently empty places.

(summary from another edition)

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