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I whipped through it very quickly. Nice flow, and at times hilarious, especially in the first half of the book or so. The Southern expressions cracked me up, and I love the way she poked fun at the 80s New Age culture. The style is somewhat similar to Elizabeth Berg, but without so much heavy sentiment. That's not a criticism of Berg.

I like her books a lot, too. I thought I hated this author because of Poisonwood Bible. I'm delighted to find out she can tell a This story was just a ton of fun! I'm delighted to find out she can tell a great story. Apr 23, Misse rated it it was amazing.

The Bean Trees Summary

I really liked this book. Even more than Poisonwood Bible- which was good in a different way. This book reminds me of Where the Heart Is. It's a quick read- I think you'll like it. Barbara Kingsolver is an author I am terrified to revisit. It was a hard read. It challenged me in so many ways, but it was epic and beautiful. Then, I read The Lacuna. So I have always been hesitant, although eager, to pick up her other works. I had this one and I thought, if her first novel s Barbara Kingsolver is an author I am terrified to revisit.

I had this one and I thought, if her first novel sucks I can always put it down, and it's only pp. While a lot less refined than the others I mention above, the beautiful, captivating storytelling is evident and spellbinding again. I was also worried that with this book without those BIG themes - religion, colonialism, Mccarthyism, communism, art, etc - that this element of storytelling would be lost. It is not. Even stripped back to the bones of a simple story, southern girl wants to make something of herself somewhere else from home, Kingsolver's storytelling comes through.

Are there issues with it being a first book? Of course. I couldn't quite connect with Taylor at times, although I wonder if that's from coming from different eras and worlds, as well as the skill of the writer. Is the book a good introduction, or even continuation, of Kingsolver's writing? I think so. I think those going into this short, early book expecting something on par to the books mentioned above are going to be disappointed. But going in with my hesitant trepidation of a fan who is worried of being let down, I was not disappointed.

I read The Poisonwood Bible a little over a year ago and loved it, so I'm not sure what made me take so long to pick up something else by Kingsolver maybe that ever-so-long to-be-read list of mine I was aware that this was her debut novel and that some readers felt it wasn't as good as her later work, but I was pleasantly surprised. I agree that it doesn't demonstrate quite the same depth and polish as Poisonwood, but it's a bloody good debut and there are clear hints of how sharp and vivid I read The Poisonwood Bible a little over a year ago and loved it, so I'm not sure what made me take so long to pick up something else by Kingsolver maybe that ever-so-long to-be-read list of mine I agree that it doesn't demonstrate quite the same depth and polish as Poisonwood, but it's a bloody good debut and there are clear hints of how sharp and vividly-observed her writing would become.

The story starts out seeming simple, but opens out to touch on important themes politics, human rights, families of all shapes and sizes , but with a light touch which makes this very readable. The characters are engaging and there's a delightful protagonist who captured my attention early on. The main characters grow nicely as the story progresses - appropriate, given how young they are at the beginning. I'm determined to pick up my next Kingsolver read much more quickly than I got to this one!

Oct 02, Wanda rated it liked it Recommended to Wanda by: my book club. Shelves: book-club , great-bks-by-women , female-authors , read-in If, however, you are willing to spend a while getting to know the two young women featured, I think you will enjoy The Bean Trees. Marietta re-names herself Taylor and truly starts over. She bravely starts out in a hunk-of-junk car and acquires a child along the way. LouAnn takes the more traditional route out—she gets married and moves with a husband, who proceeds to abandon his pregnant wife.

But the two young women, from similar backgrounds, find one another and start building a firm friendship. There is a study in contrasts—young women from poor families and illegal immigrants. Taylor, who has felt the weight of discrimination all of her life, is suddenly confronted with her white privilege. LouAnn, who has never felt worthy of anything, is changed by a job where her enthusiasm and hard work are recognized and rewarded.

Instead of mooning around, hoping for a transformation of her absent husband, she finally takes charge of her life. And I found the final solution to her legal position to be most unlikely. The significance of the title, which refers to the Wisteria vine, gets rather slapped in your face at the end of the book.

The scraggly, ugly vine which, after the life-giving rain, produces luxuriant foliage and beautiful flowers, just as the underprivileged, poor girls flower into a happier life with some kindness from others. Despite my perception of flaws, however, I found the book an enjoyable read. It made me appreciate my own age and station in life—I have said it before, I would never choose to be less than 40 again!

Aug 02, Michael rated it it was amazing Shelves: fiction , child-abuse , immigrant-experience , native-american , racism , humor , arizona. In this delightful first novel by Kingsolver, she already has her skills working on all cylinders. The tale portrays a journey of a young woman, Taylor, to escape from a restricted life in a small town in Kentucky.

Along the way, an abused 3-year old Cherokee girl is abandoned in her car in Oklahoma, whom she names Turtle, and incorporates into her life at the point her car falls apart in Tuscon, Arizona. With a relatively simple plot and a few characters, she captures well how even poor, uneduc In this delightful first novel by Kingsolver, she already has her skills working on all cylinders. With a relatively simple plot and a few characters, she captures well how even poor, uneducated people with big hearts can draw in a circle of fellow humans sufficient to handle many tough challenges and to make the essence of a joyful extended family.

The impacts of poverty, classism, racism, child abuse, and persecution of political refugees from South America are some of the themes. Despite these subject lines, humor and personal triumphs abound in the telling. Books like this that make me both laugh and cry, as well as encapsulate visions of the universal in the particular, garner highest ratings from me. I place this one in the same ball park with novels of Kent Haruf and Billie Letts.

Feb 17, Black Elephants rated it it was ok Shelves: fiction. As the first book of the duo, it chronicles the flight of Taylor Greer from a small, hick lifestyle to a freer life she didn't expect.


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Basically, Taylor's managed to be educated and not get pregnant when she finally takes her car across the country. But one night in a bar, a mysterious Indian woman gives her a young girl. Suddenly, Taylor finds that she's a single mother with no prospects. What's a girl to do? While writing that summary, I was struck by how interesting the narrative elements seemed. Young, single, white woman faces world with young child that needs love; they triumph. However, I was, to put it bluntly, unimpressed by the entire book. The same thing happened with Pigs in Heaven.

I liked the idea Kingsovler presented and I think she has brings real places into fiction, but I just was not impressed by the execution. Another complaint that I had about Pigs in Heaven, which also holds for this book, is that there were moments that made me believe this novel wouldn't age well. Again, I can't remember any particular points, but certain sections would pop out at me while I was reading and make me think I know Barbara Kingsolver enjoys popularity among literary circles, but I'm really perplexed by it. Compared to the hundreds of other candidates who are more than qualified to be read in classrooms, why choose her?

Oh yeah, there were bean trees, and they were a metaphor. But I never thought it worked. I've been dipping into Flight Behavior at the same time as I've read The Bean Trees, and it's immediately apparent just how far Kingsolver's writing has developed in the years since she wrote this, her first novel. Her two main female characters are young, uncertain of where they belong in the world, and slowly forge a close friendship, each facing up to difficult circumstances, both poor, both find they can d0 things they didn't think they could because they have built friendships.

The plot is sh I've been dipping into Flight Behavior at the same time as I've read The Bean Trees, and it's immediately apparent just how far Kingsolver's writing has developed in the years since she wrote this, her first novel. The plot is shaky, and I'm not tempted to read its sequel, 'Pigs in Heaven' which follows the story of Taylor and Turtle.

Barbara Kingsolver shot out of the barriers with her first novel — The Bean Trees — and really, has never looked back. The plot is very character driven rather than narrative. It is basically the journey of a young woman discovering hers Barbara Kingsolver shot out of the barriers with her first novel — The Bean Trees — and really, has never looked back. It is basically the journey of a young woman discovering herself, and the people she gathers around her, and by their presence being part of the process of her development.

Tucson, by its very nature of being so close to the Mexican border is a city that is a melting pot of cultures and peoples. It is hardly surprising then that Taylor would collect a series of characters and eccentrics. Being a drifter, she is going to encounter people with their own set of problems and ideals. Taylor is suddenly a single mother with all the prejudices and assumptions people make. There is also the steep learning curve of being a mother and the expectations the child demands in her innocence.

The novel deals well with poverty, human struggles, and the sense of community that poorer neighbourhoods are known to conduct. It does come with challenges — requiring baby sitters, and fighting off the good intensions of those that believe that splitting a poor family unit is better for the child. This is a thorny topic — which is better: giving a child financial security, or be in a loving family unit that has financial issues?

The strength of women — as a sisterhood, as a community, as individuals — is very much in the fore. The men are often losers: violent, lazy and demanding on the limited resources and finances. It could be construed as a feminist novel, but I think this is misguided, as it encompasses the strength that can be achieved if people work together and are supportive when times are tough. Although there is an aspect of lesbianism, there are also very passionate relationships with men.

Taylor falls in love with Esperanza, but knows Esperanza is never going to leave her husband, and so fulfils her unrequited needs with a deep platonic friendship. The other major theme is immigration. The folklore of the US is its welcoming of those that wish to come to the US for better opportunities. For some decades now, this has not been the case, and it depends on where you come from, more than who you are. The struggle of a Guatamalan couple who are refugees is poignantly written, exasperated by the fact that young Turtle looks very much like the child that Esperanza has lost.

The Underground Railroad is very much alive and functioning in modern US as we see this couple avoid the authorities and restart their lives. I also enjoyed the sense of place: I felt I was sweating it out in Tucson in those long hot summers, and also the beauty of the surrounding landscape. I really enjoyed the passions and emotions the characters experienced. What I especially liked was the view of one being eccentric does not preclude you from happy fulfilling relationships at all levels- friendship to sexual.

Apr 17, Brina rated it it was amazing Shelves: southwestern-literature , barbara-kingsolver. Another book that I read and loved in high school that I am filing here. View all 14 comments. Time for something completely different and some female authors as well. This author is pretty famous I guess and this book has thousands of reviews on G'reads.

My paperback edition has a cover similar to this but not identical. Copyright So far I hope I don't get all worn out and such. Making the eccentric believable and compelling can be a challenge. My nephew's wife is from Kentucky, so I can im Time for something completely different and some female authors as well. My nephew's wife is from Kentucky, so I can imagine the accent pretty well. The writing is good and clear so I'm mostly enjoying the ride. The believe-ability factor is an issue but one can set it by and keep going.

How long can Taylor keep a-hold of a child she has no legal right to be "in possession" of? We'll see, I guess. Moving on and Taylor is falling in love. And thus we enter dicey territory for authors. There a bazillion romance novels out there of dubious literary value and there are plenty more stories, like this one, which endeavor to take the issue "seriously.

It's VERY hard for an author to tell any kind of a "real" love story and not make it boring for a male reader and for female readers too, just to be fair. It can, however, be done. Jane Austen and John Green come quickly to mind. I'd have to check my book list "Indecision" is another one for more examples, but they're out there.

I assume the author is referring to "shit on a shingle," which is chipped beef or ground beef in gravy poured over toast. I suppose it's possible that BK was trying to make Taylor look cute in having her describe it that misunderstanding kind of way. Finished last night with a bit of an underwhelming feeling.

How Family Affects Oneself in the Bean Trees and a Raisin in the Sun

Taylor is a kind of opaque and un-interesting character, though possibly more compelling to female readers. Still, I respect the author for keeping it real enough, although the overall premise is not exactly reality-based. You know, being "gifted" with a needy little kid as an opportunity for YOU to grow up and take responsibility.

I might give the author another shot. After all, this was her first effort. I'm just sayin' Jun 27, Sissy rated it it was amazing Shelves: ebooks2share2. Stopped reading a little after half way. Kingsolver tells a wonderful story about love. About the love a person feels for friends, family and children even when the children are not biologically their own.

It is a mature novel filled with wisdom and compassion; nature and nurture. Kingsolver, gives readers something that's increasingly hard to find today…. Taylor Greer is a woman who has taken her life into her own hands. She managed to escape the fate of most of her contemporaries in her rural, Kentucky town.

She was able to reach adulthood without becoming barefoot and pregnant. She saved money, bought a car and headed west. Free at last. Then fate stepped in …. Great story.. Great writing.. Oct 17, Julie rated it it was ok Shelves: raising-arizona. Let me tell you something. I'm moving. Is it because they are creeps and criminals? It's because they're boring and humorless and weird. I've officially read 3 of Kingsolver's novels now, and I haven't liked a single character. I enjoyed the story and the writing of Prodigal Summer, yet still managed to dislike every character.

Poisonwood Bible and this one? No thanks. It's n Let me tell you something.

Book Review: The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver – Cute Cositas

It's not even that the characters are unformed or inauthentic. They're just. I'd rather have my teeth cleaned than go out for coffee with any of these people. I have a collection of Kingsolver essays on my night stand, and I'm really going to give it the old college try, but. Oct 23, Jamilka rated it liked it. This Book was pleasant Things i like: 1. Female relationships, very strong i know Taylor wouldn't have made it without them. I love the relationship between Taylor and Turtle. This book is filled with motherly love. Struggles- Very realistic for her time struggles.

The book was truthful and lovable. The struggles were difficult because Taylor was dealing with something that she really wanted to avoid which is having a child.

The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

Taylor was always running away from every teenage girls practical fate This Book was pleasant Things i like: 1. Taylor was always running away from every teenage girls practical fate and it was a surprise to have her put into her life. The way it happened truly shocked me. This was really good for her first book. And much of it took place in my home town, Tucson, which added another layer of enjoyment. But most of all I loved the message of the bean trees and the underlying goodness of people. Jul 18, H. The story opens in rural Kentucky where Marietta grows up in a small town, learning early to fight her corner and, after saving up enough money, leaves her beloved mother as soon as she can in an old VW to travel as far as the temperamental vehicle can take her.

She eventually does get stranded in the middle of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma when her car breaks down and needs to spend almost all her cash to repair it. Before she's able to head off again though, she is confronted by a woman The story opens in rural Kentucky where Marietta grows up in a small town, learning early to fight her corner and, after saving up enough money, leaves her beloved mother as soon as she can in an old VW to travel as far as the temperamental vehicle can take her. Before she's able to head off again though, she is confronted by a woman who forces a young child into her car.

Bewildered, Marietta who during the trip has renamed herself Taylor drives off with the little girl and needless to say, her life changes dramatically. She not only has her own livelihood to take of but also has to learn to look after a deeply traumatized little person who she grows to love and nurture the best she can. When she decides to settle in Tuscon, Arizona, she gradually turns into a feisty, mature and fiercely independent woman who thanks to the encounter with a diverse and lovable set of intriguing characters finds herself a new family.

It's a great story that touches on many social topics such as immigration rights, human rights and the needs for a community, a sense of belonging and an open-minded idea of family values. I loved it! Readers also enjoyed. About Barbara Kingsolver. Barbara Kingsolver.


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  7. Barbara Kingsolver is an American novelist, essayist, and poet. She was raised in rural Kentucky and lived briefly in Africa in her early childhood. Kingsolver earned degrees in Biology at DePauw University and the University of Arizona and worked as a freelance writer before she began writing novels.

    Her most famous works include The Poisonwood Bible , the tale of a missionary family in the Congo, Barbara Kingsolver is an American novelist, essayist, and poet. Her most famous works include The Poisonwood Bible , the tale of a missionary family in the Congo, and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle , a non-fiction account of her family's attempts to eat locally. Her work often focuses on topics such as social justice, biodiversity, and the interaction between humans and their communities and environments. In , Kingsolver established the Bellwether Prize to support "literature of social change.

    When Kingsolver was seven years old, her father, a physician, took the family to the former Republic of Congo in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Her parents worked in a public health capacity, and the family lived without electricity or running water. After graduating from high school, Kingsolver attended DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana on a music scholarship, studying classical piano.

    Eventually, however, she changed her major to biology when she realized that "classical pianists compete for six job openings a year, and the rest of [them:] get to play 'Blue Moon' in a hotel lobby. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in , and moved to France for a year before settling in Tucson, Arizona, where she would live for much of the next two decades.

    In she enrolled in graduate school at the University of Arizona, where she earned a Master's degree in ecology and evolutionary biology. Kingsolver began her full-time writing career in the mid s as a science writer for the university, which eventually lead to some freelance feature writing. She began her career in fiction writing after winning a short story contest in a local Phoenix newspaper. In she married Joseph Hoffmann; their daughter Camille was born in She moved with her daughter to Tenerife in the Canary Islands for a year during the first Gulf war, mostly due to frustration over America's military involvement.

    After returning to the US in , she separated from her husband. She was also married to Steven Hopp, that year, and their daughter, Lily, was born in In , Kingsolver moved with her family to a farm in Washington County, Virginia, where they currently reside. Hers is a story about love and friendship, abandonment and belonging, and the discovery of surprising resources in apparently empty places. Available for the first time in mass-market, this edition of Barbara Kingsolver's bestselling novel, The Bean Trees, will be in stores everywhere in September.

    With two different but equally handsome covers, this book is a fine addition to your Kingsolver library. This was a quick and enjoyable read of Barbara Kingsolver's first novel. I liked it for several reasons. Barbara Kingsolver is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors, even though this is only the second of her books that I've read. Barbara Kingsolver's work has been translated into more than twenty languages and has earned a devoted readership at home and abroad.