Hi Bookworms! Today we’re going to talk about The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver.
Barbara Kingsolver also wrote The Poisonwood Bible which is amazing and I totally suggest you read it if you have any interest… But if it’s too long or too missionary-ish for you, I won’t blame you if you can’t finish it. I’m not an elitist book snob or anything, read what you like. (Okay, maybe I’m a little bit of an elitist book snob, but only a little.)
All of that is beside the point, other than the fact that Barbara Kingsolver wrote The Bean Trees. A high school friend of mine (I used to call her “Pants Pie” and she still talks to me) who is kind enough to read my blog (Hi Megan!) told me that I needed to read this, so I did. I take suggestions seriously, I swear.
This book was a lot different than I expected. I mean. I don’t know what I expected… But a girl from Appalachia who takes great pains not to end up pregnant like a large portion of her graduating class who leaves town only to be saddled with a Cherokee toddler to raise REALLY wasn’t what I expected.
Did you get all that? Our heroine Taylor (whose real name is Marietta) decides to get the heck out of Kentucky. She’s got a POS car that’s held together with duct tape and chewing gum and she breaks down on tribal lands in Oklahoma. Oh you’re not familiar with US History? So, what happened was, the US government was unbelievably horrible to the Native Americans. European settlers showed up and were all mean and stuff, and eventually pushed the Native Americans out of their homes and shipped them all off on the Trail of Tears. The Trail of Tears was this brutal march to the middle of nowhere (AKA Oklahoma) and there the Cherokee nation resides to this day. Actually, it was several tribes subjected to relocation, but this book focused on the Cherokee, and so shall we.
So while Taylor is stranded in Oklahoma, some crazed woman deposits a sexually assaulted toddler in the backseat of her car. Taylor has no idea what to do. In the end, she decides the kid is better off with her than where she came from (OBVIOUSLY) so she takes the little one with her on her journey to Arizona.
What follows is a beautiful story of family. It’s not always about the family you’re born into, but the family you make for yourself. When Taylor finds herself in Tuscon, she’s utterly alone. A series of fortunate coincidences help Taylor create a new life and a new family for herself and her daughter. Sure, her psychologically damaged foster child speaks exclusively of produce- but that’s okay. Taylor holds out hope that “tomato” and “bean” eventually turn into “mom” and “love.” The random roommate she found in the classified section turns out to be her best friend. Taylor’s boss at the tire shop is a mechanic by day and immigration activist by night. She becomes more than just Taylor’s boss- she becomes her inspiration. Life throws Taylor and her “family” a jacked up set of curve balls and they muddle through it the best they can, and their life? It’s beautiful.
Family comes in all shapes and sizes. Do any of you bookworms have a non-biological family you’ve built?