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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

#Audiobook #Review: 4 out of 5 stars for The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver @b_kingsolver @HarperAudio

SERIES: Greer Family, Book #1
AUTHOR: Barbara Kingsolver
PUBLISHER: Harper Audio
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 9 hrs and 20 mins 
GENRE: Contemporary Fiction
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 of putting down roots.

Hers is a story about love and friendship, abandonment and belonging, and the discovery of surprising resources in apparently empty places.

Marietta Greer's dream was to escape her small town in Kentucky and, with the recommendation of her teacher whose wife was a nurse, she landed a job in the local hospital. She saved enough money to buy a car and set off for an unknown destination. She decided that she also needed a new name to also go along with her new life, so her plan was to rename herself based on the place where she ran out of gas. Fortunately, that turned out to be Taylorville, so Marietta became Taylor.

Taylor’s car breaks down in Oklahoma near the Cherokee Nation Reserve. After her car is fixed, she is about to leave and continue on her journey but is stopped by a woman holding a young child. She tells Taylor to take the baby, her niece, whose mother had died. The woman puts the child on the passenger seat and walks away. Taylor is dumbfounded, but she drives away with the baby. She stops at a motel to change the baby’s diaper and to give her a bath, and that’s when she sees the child’s bruises and realizes that she has been abused. She nicknames the girl “Turtle.”

Then the story flips to another young woman named Lou Ann Ruiz, who lives in Arizona. She is pregnant, and her husband has just left her. Taylor ends up in Arizona, and she meets Lou Ann through a room for rent advertisement. By this time, Lou Ann has had her baby, a boy named Dwayne Ray, and is looking for a tenant to help with the bills. Taylor and Turtle move in. The two young woman have common ground, in that they are both from Kentucky. At first, Taylor is a bit put off that Lou Ann is trying to make them like a family. However, that ends up being just exactly what she needs!

This book was a pleasant surprise! It was a more literary type of novel than I normally read, but I really enjoyed it. I loved Taylor’s strength and sass! She basically left Kentucky with nothing but her car, and she headed off to make her mark in the world. She certainly didn’t expect to end up with a child, but she took her responsibility towards Turtle like any parent would towards their own child. Taylor and Lou Ann develop a loving sisterly bond.

Taylor’s friend, Mattie, owns a used tire shop. Mattie is also a wonderful character, who gives sanctuary to illegal immigrants and helps them to get to somewhere safe. Taylor and Lou Ann befriend a couple, Estevan and Esperanza from Guatemala, who are staying with Mattie. I loved learning about what Estevan and Esperanza had gone through, and it was so heartwarming to see a group of strangers who came together to love, care for, and help each other.

Barbara Kingsolver is a new-to-me author, and I love the way she writes. This is definitely a character driven story, and I think that Kingsolver’s strength is her character development. I felt like I really knew the characters in the story and, more importantly, I cared what happened to them. I will definitely read more of her work, and I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

Memorable quote from Taylor:

“Do you know, I spent the first half of my life avoiding motherhood and tires, and now I’m counting them as blessings?” 

C.J. Critt is a new-to-me narrator, and she grew on me. However, the very first thing that I noticed about the narration was her every inhalation. I honestly can’t say if it became less noticeable over time or whether she stopped doing it, but I did get used to it after a time. I think at that point, I was pulled in by the story. I ended up really enjoying Ms. Critt’s narration, and I especially loved her Turtle voice! There are some lengthy pauses before and after each chapter, which never failed to have me pulling out my iPod to check if my battery was dead! I assume that is more an issue with production than the narration itself. Here is a sample of the narration:


4 stars!! It was really good, and you should definitely put it on your TBR list if you enjoy literary fiction.


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