1988 – Barbara Kingsolver’s debut novel The Bean Trees was the start of a great career. This is a writer with mad skills. I’ve loved her writing through the years, but somehow had never read this book.
Taylor’s goal in life growing up poor in Kentucky was to avoid pregnancy and move away. She succeeds – saves to buy a car and heads west after high school. In a weird circumstance, she becomes the guardian of a baby girl. The two make it to Tucson, meet Mattie, the owner of a car repair shop, and Taylor has a job, a friend, and a new life. Mattie also runs a safe-house for Central American refugees. Keep in mind, this story was written in 1988, but seems fresh and current for today’s world.
Plenty of rich characters inhabit this book, and the baby girl, nicknamed Turtle, is a healing force in all of their lives and a tie that binds them together. This is a novel about love and friendship, abandonment and belonging, and discovery. (cover blurb) You’ll root for Taylor and Turtle and keep turning the pages of The Bean Trees.