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The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

The Bean Trees

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This is a jolly good story which makes you want to keep reading to find out what happens. The story is set in midwest America with both setting and culture evocative of 1988, when the book was written.

The plot is an emotional rollercoaster. It centres on Taylor who, while driving across America, is literally left holding an abandoned baby from an Indian reservation. She calls her 'Turtle' as the baby clings to her like a 'Mud Turtle'. The growing relationship between the two is gripping for the reader.

There is effective character development with predominantly strong female characters. The characters are believable and the observations and reflections on their lives poignant and written with compassion. The book has tender moments, lines to make you laugh out loud but includes some horror, written simply and with few words to have a more shocking effect on the reader.

The Bean Trees makes a good choice for a book group as there is a lot to discuss as well as the engaging plot: racism, contrasts with the lives of those living on Indian reservations, persecution in Guatemala and life in remote midwest America.

Recommendation: A remarkable, very enjoyable book which will linger in the memory. You will never look at a wisteria plant in the same way again!