I enjoyed The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver, so much that I did not want it to end. It is one of the best books I have ever read. To simply describe the plot outline will not do it justice; it is not a grandiose novel with a complex plot. Rather, it is a book about people and life, about human suffering and human compassion. A large part of what makes it so good is Kingsolver’s excellent writing. Her style is distinctive and engaging, at once both in the vernacular and sophisticated. Her images are fresh and in depicting the struggles of the individual characters she captures the universalness of their experiences.
Some sample quotes will perhaps illustrate better than I can describe:
Her body, her face, and her eyes were all round. She was someone you could have drawn a picture of by tracing around dimes and quarters and jar tops.
I waited a minute, thinking that soon my mind would clear and I would understand what she was saying. It didn’t. The child had the exact same round eyes. All four of those eyes were hanging there in the darkness, hanging on me, waiting. The Budweiser sign blinked on and off, on and off, throwing a faint light that made the whites of their eyes look orange.
I find one aspect about the storyline intriguing, which is that much of the time I felt as if it wasn’t the sort of story that would have an end, that I was just reading a snapshot of someone’s life. I enjoyed this and it contributed to it being good (and, as I mentioned above, I in fact did not want it to end), but it was also nice that towards the latter part of the book the plot became a bit more complex and did actually have closure at the end.
There is really little else I can say about The Bean Trees, because the best thing you can do is go read the book yourself. However, I will leave you with one more short quote that particularly stood out to me:
I just kept saying how this world was a terrible place to try and bring up a child in. And Lou Ann kept saying, For God’s sake, what other world have we got?