I’ll be lazy today and use the Goodreads summary: “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.”
The Bean Trees deftly deals with an impressively wide variety of issues, heartwarming and chock-full of meaning while still maintaining a sense of levity and humor. I loved all of the characters. They were very diverse and relatable, each bringing something extra to the story. Taylor and Lou Ann’s friendship and the way they balanced each other out was especially a highlight. Above all, what I think of when I think of The Bean Trees is the many wonderfully eccentric elements that I won’t soon forget— for example, Taylor’s phobia of tires, developed after an exploding one launched a man in her town into the air, and the fact that she ends up working at an auto shop specializing in tires— where she’s cured of her fear by the owner, the authoritative Mattie, who ends up becoming an important maternal figure to her.
The Bean Trees would have to rank pretty high on my list of favorite books. It’s insightful, loveable, and entertaining to boot. The whole novel has an intensely genuine quality that makes it impossible not to feel a connection to the story. This is coming out to be a pretty short review (maybe owing to the fact that it’s been a few years since I read it), but basically, it’s fabulous.
Lyrical Award for beauty both of style and of content.
Illuminator Award for thought-provocation and general smartness.