I'd read two of Barbara Kingsolver's books before stumbling on this one. I'd inhaled Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, as well as The Poisonwood Bible, and so when I was at the library a couple of weeks ago, I walked over to the fiction section and browsed through her other works on a whim, which is where I picked up The Bean Trees.
The Bean Trees was Kingsolvers very first novel, a fact that blew me away after I'd finished it. I absolutely LOVED this book. I loved the characters, I loved the setting. I loved the way Kingsolver can make characters seem SO REAL even when they're SO DIFFERENT from any kind of person I've ever met. I got sucked in FAST and I couldn't put it down; I actually stopped in the middle of reading one evening and tweeted that I was reading a book that I was DREADING having to see end. I loved it, beginning to end.
Look, I'm terrible at writing plot summaries, so here's the book description on Amazon.com: "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."
And after you finish it, there's a sequel: Pigs in Heaven. I already have it waiting for me on my bookshelf.
[photo credit: www.kingsolver.com]