Book Review: The Bean Trees

Man, do I love a good book. I haven’t been hitting the fiction very hard lately–I always wonder at the ebb and flow and general chaos of my reading tendencies–but I feel myself headed back down some excellent fiction roads.

Thank God.

Every now and again, fiction is the quickest way to my heart. I used to wonder about folks talking about great literature like it could save the world. I don’t wonder any more. A powerful book, or any powerful work of art I suppose, can take you places that no amount of eye-level logic or intellectual activity can. Somehow a direct catheter to the heart is opened up with the beautifully rendered word. Fiction, or fiction-like memoir, can do this like no other.

The Bean Trees was a gift. It sat on my shelf for six weeks before I even picked it up. How tragic that I could overlook it for so long. How hopeful that such treasures lie just under our noses.

Here’s my boring Goodreads review. Just because…

The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fantastic.

First of all, Kingsolver is a tremendous writer. Just gorgeous prose. A heart-wrenching and hilarious story of life in all its ugliness and life in all its beauty. Warm and wonderful characters, vivid settings, striking plotlines, the whole ball of wax. I couldn’t walk away.

It never ceases to amaze me that when I read a book that feels like it was written today, for today, when it was not. The Bean Trees is only thirty-some years old, so it’s not like we’re talking about a totally different world, but truly, we are talking about a totally different world. The eighties are, in many ways, light years away. Yet so much never changes. Our struggles remain the same. As a people, as a country, as humans.

I’ve never read Barbara Kingsolver before; I had no idea what I was missing. I can’t wait for more.

Love,
KJ

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