Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

Bean Trees (original 1988; edition 2001)

by Barbara Kingsolver

Series: Turtle (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7,438133471 (3.94)339
Title:Bean Trees
Authors:Barbara Kingsolver
Info:Abacus (2001), Paperback, 232 pages
Collections:Your library, Favorites
Tags:American Fiction

Work details

The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver (1988)


Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 339 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 132 (next | show all)
"Mi'ija, in a world as wrong as this one, all we can do is to make things as right as we can."

Turtle remains one of my favorite literary characters of all time, and the friendships forged by Taylor, Turtle's accidental ma, with Mattie, Lou Ann, Estevan, and Esperanza, are so sweet and timeless. Exploring such themes as belonging and loyalty and sacrifice and the courage to keep going, the novel follows Taylor from her Kentucky hometown to Tucson. Driving west in a ramshackle VW, she doesn't know what she seeks but along the way she acquires Turtle, a silent and adorable toddler. Turtle needs Taylor but, of course, Taylor needs Turtle, too. As their bond grows, so does Taylor's understanding of the brutality of the world and the beauty of connection.

I'm not sure I would have given this five stars if this had been my first time reading the novel, but I remembered it as a five-star read from the late 1980s and I'm sticking with that rating due to the novel's ability to so firmly ensconce itself in my reading memory. I thoroughly enjoyed it and plan to seek out a copy of the sequel, Pigs in Heaven, for a reread very soon. ( )
2 vote EBT1002 | Nov 28, 2015 |
In [The Bean Trees] young Marietta Greer tells the story of her journeys…from her Kentucky birthplace to the American west, from near-poverty (economic, social, and cultural) and non-existent opportunity, from her given name, even from her mother.

When I drove over the Pittman line I made two promises to myself…The first was that I would get myself a new name. I wasn't crazy about anything I had been called up to that point in my life, and this seemed like the time to make a clean break. I didn't have any special name in mind, but just wanted a change…I decided to let the gas tank decide. Wherever it ran out, I'd look for a sign.

Coasting into Taylorville, Illinois, she becomes Taylor Greer.

Driving on in her marginally functional 1955 VW, Taylor stops at an Oklahoma roadside bar, in hopes of cadging a burger, and is given a small, silent child, closely wrapped in a blanket that obscures its sex and its age, a bundle carefully set in the passenger seat. A woman—the child's mother?—murmurs furtively about desperate circumstances and quickly moves away. She climbs into a pickup parked across the lot and it pulls away. Just that fast, Taylor is a mother.

Within a few hours, Taylor learns the child is a girl, that she's pathologically withdrawn, undernourished, a victim of sexual abuse. She continues to drive west, her mind sorting and resorting questions and options. On the outskirts of Tucson, the VW's tires give out. They've stayed inflated long enough to get the car onto the lot of Jesus Is Lord Used Tires. Taylor, of course, has no money by this time, so getting tires, even well-used tires, are out of the question. She's arrived, it seems, at the end of her journey.

But we're only on page 41, and Taylor has a whole lot of journeying still to do. As she progresses, she's befriended by Mattie, the woman who runs the used tire business and who moonlights with an underground railroad marshalling Guatemalan illegals through Arizona and on into the secret American heartlands. Mattie gives her employment. Taylor also hooks up with Lou Ann, a fellow Kentuckian married to a rodeo rider of Mexican heritage. Lou Ann has an infant son, Dwayne Ray, but is losing her husband, who is intent on divorcing her.

Taylor's named her "daughter" Turtle because, like a snapping turtle, she grasps her hand or coat-hem with a vise-like grip. Inevitably, Taylor is confronted by the need to somehow legalize her adoption of Turtle.

[The Bean Trees] was Kingsolver's first novel, and in it she demonstrated her ear for dialog, her sensitivity to the nuances of interpersonal relationships, her appreciation of all the facets and feelings surrounding motherhood, whether biological or adoptional. The story builds, enticing you to follow along Taylor's road. You'll be glad if you do.
1 vote weird_O | Nov 15, 2015 |
This volune has my 3 favorite early Barbara Kingsolver books together in one collection, so I absolutely love it. ( )
  cjazzlee | Nov 13, 2015 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 132 (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
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
For Annie and Joe
For Ismene, and all the mothers who have lost her (10th Anniversary Edition)
First words
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?
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

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)

» see all 9 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
359 avail.
69 wanted
4 pay5 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.94)
0.5 1
1 18
1.5 6
2 82
2.5 18
3 422
3.5 105
4 880
4.5 88
5 562


An edition of this book was published by Audible.com.

See editions

Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

» Publisher information page

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 100,882,327 books! | Top bar: Always visible