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The Bean Trees

(Greer Family #1)

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  143,741 ratings  ·  7,043 reviews
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 Turt ...more
Hardcover, 232 pages
Published March 1st 1989 by Perfection Learning (first published December 1st 1988)
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Jimmer Hardy The voice reminds me of Harper Lee's, To Kill a Mockingbird.
A soulful, inventive read.…more
The voice reminds me of Harper Lee's, To Kill a Mockingbird.
A soulful, inventive read.(less)
Elizabeth Klein
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

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Average rating 3.98  · 
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 ·  143,741 ratings  ·  7,043 reviews

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My stepmother was the type of woman who painted the walls in our house eighteen different colors and wore turquoise-encrusted Kokopelli jewelry to show how in tune she was with the local culture. She hung Frida Khalo prints on the bedroom walls and thought that speaking ‘Food Spanish’ to waiters made her nearly fluent. She also compelled my sister and me to read a lot of Tony Hillerman paperbacks and other ‘local literature,’ which I am now almost positive included The Bean Trees. Because after ...more
Jun 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Marietta Greer has just completed two miracles of her rural Kentucky upbringing: graduating high school and avoiding pregnancy. To celebrate, she jumps in her ’55 Volkswagen bug and rides West, leaving her job at a Kentucky hospital counting platelets to stay true to her plan “to drive out of Pittman County one day and never look back” (11). On the road, she changes her name to Taylor and finds herself in Tucson, Arizona with a broken down car and a Cherokee baby in her arms.

Taylor is an honest,
da AL
Aug 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A gently told story of the power of love, of how the families we make are as important as the ones we're born into. Each of us can make a difference with our compassion. ...more
Apr 03, 2008 rated it it was ok
I quite liked this, though it's obvious that this was Kingsolver's first novel. The main character, Taylor, is unevenly developed--she's too mutable, changing to fit what Kingsolver wants to say or how she wants to say it at various points in the book--and many of the other characters are types, not people, however finely observed. The plotline involving the refugees from Guatemala in particular was a little too anvilicious. And while it's set very definitely in the American South, the novel did ...more
Jul 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
I have to admit, this book really did a number on me. It was recommended to me from a friend, so my expectations were high, but after the first few chapters I was was not getting into it. The narrator's first-person voice was simple, non-descriptive, and frankly just a bit too naive to handle for an entire novel. But the story was interesting, so I kept going.

And the thing is, so does Taylor, the main character. As she charges her way through a haphazard journey to the Southwest, she begins to g
Joy D
A young woman leaves home in Kentucky and heads off to establish a new life. Protagonist Marietta has never liked her name, so along her journey she changes her name to Taylor. In Oklahoma, her car breaks down. After repair, she goes to a restaurant, where a Cherokee woman bundles a small child into her car and drives away. The child appears to have been abused. When her car breaks down once again, Taylor and the child land in Tucson, Arizona. She rents a room from Lou Ann Ruiz, also from Kentuc ...more
Jul 06, 2010 rated it it was ok
So many things about this book bugged me.
1. Someone abandons a baby in your car and you don't get ahold of the police.
2. Someone abandons a baby, in your broken down car, you don't have a home or money or a destination in mind, so you decide to adopt baby.
3. You decide to adopt baby, but you spent the next several years being so bewildered by motherhood that you might as well have left baby in the car to be raised by coyotes.
4. Americans in general are directly responsible for the torture of inn
Jan 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
When I first read this book several years ago, I was terribly impressed by
1) her writing style, which I really like - I wish I could write like that
2) the interesting plot of a single girl who had avoided teenage pregnancy through her young life only to end up with someone else's baby
3) the relationship she has with her mother, who believes her daughter "hung the moon in the sky" and can absolutely do no wrong. I think it would be wonderful if my daughters came out of their childhoods not pregn
Richard Derus
Oct 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
Real Rating: 1.5* of five

I made a huge mistake. I thought this was The Beans of Egypt, Maine. It wasn' was the hallucinations of a pregnant and sleep-deprived Kingsolver transmuted to fiction. I daresay its fans would say "art;" I beg to differ.

Like the unbearable gynergy of The Mists of Avalon, the fog of womanness that enshrouds this book blocked my view of its merits.
Deacon Tom F
Mar 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Barbara Kingsolver’s novel, “The Bean Trees” is fun read. Kingsolver is a superb storyteller. The characters are unique and descriptions make. The story comes alive.

It's the story of Marietta a strong young woman from Kentucky who throws everything aside and begins a life changing journey--she just drives. It's a saga of uncertainty that keeps you wondering what’s next.

Changes begin: 1) a new name of Taylor. 2) a Cherokee woman leaves a baby in Taylor’s car -- she names her Turtle. 3) she meets
Sep 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This is an amazing cast of lovable characters who don't have much other than one another. It proves that "family" doesn't have to be blood related.
Oct 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2009, audiobook-d, fiction
"But nothing on this earth is guaranteed, when you get right down to it, you know? I've been thinking about that. About how your kids aren't really YOURS, they're just these people that you try to keep an eye on, and hope you'll all grow up someday to like eachother and still be in one piece. What I mean is, everything you get is really just on loan. Does that make sense?"

"Sure,"I said. "Like library books. Sooner or later they've all got to go back into the nightdrop."

I'm trying to get better a
Mar 17, 2010 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Erin Glover
I read The Bean Trees as part of an effort to go back and read the early works of my favorite authors. Barbara Kingsolver is one of my all-time favorites. So I went all the way back to her first novel. And I’m glad I did. It’s hard to believe The Bean Trees is a debut novel.

Missy, short for Marietta, later changed to Taylor, heads west from Kentucky in a broken-down ’55 Volkswagen bug. Unlike the other girls in her town, she managed to graduate from high school with good grades and without becom
“When I drove over the Pittman line, I made two promises to myself. One I kept, the other I did not.”

Marietta Greer, in her early 20’s, left Pittman, Kentucky alone in a 1955 VW bug with no windows, no back seat, and no starter. Her first promise to herself was to get a new name: “I wasn’t crazy about anything I had been called up to that point in life, and this seemed like the time to make a clean break.” Her second promise was to drive west until her car quit running and stay there. When Marie
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 ...more
Mar 29, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: overrated
ok this sucks. boring. terrible writing. overly schmaltzy. i give up.

i give up on barbara kingsolver.

i LOVED "the poisonwood bible." one of my favorites.

i abhorred "animal, vegetable, miracle." i am one of those people that HAS to finish every book i start, but I couldn't get past page 150. i was hoping that it was just her attempt at nonfiction that failed, but now i can't get page 150 of this either.

i'm starting to think "the poisonwood bible" was a fluke.

no more barbara for me. no more.
Apr 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Wanda Pedersen
Oct 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommended to Wanda by: my book club
This is a character driven novel and if you don’t like the characters, I advise you to set it down, walk away, and read something else. 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. This is not an action novel—it’s an exploration of the lives of two young women from disadvantaged homes and how they sort out their lives.

Who can’t appreciate the desire to get out of Dodge after graduation and see what else the wo
Dillwynia Peter
May 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Barbara Kingsolver shot out of the barriers with her first novel – The Bean Trees – and really, has never looked back. There are very few novelists that deliver time after time with high quality, well thought out, interesting themes & character filled books; names that come to mind of people who do fall into this category are such novelists as Margaret Atwood and Jane Austen.

The plot is very character driven rather than narrative. It is basically the journey of a young woman discovering herself,
Jun 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Barbara Kingsolver is an author I am terrified to revisit. Many years ago I read The Poisonwood Bible and I loved it. It was a hard read. It challenged me in so many ways, but it was epic and beautiful. Then, I read The Lacuna. Again the storytelling was magical, and with characters such as Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Leon Trotsky... so many real lives to carry you along.

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
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 ...more
Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)
This story was just a ton of fun! 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
I don't know how this book made me feel. How interesting the story seemed at first, a girl who managed to avoid pregnancy for so long only to end up raising someone else's baby... and the setting was interesting, even if the characters weren't. ...more
This is my fourth read of this book. . . It is my favorite of the BK oeuvre. When it first came out there was all the fuss about banning it, but has Time has marched on, He/She has stomped all over some of those sensitivities. It has been interesting to watch.

My favorite in this book is Turtle, then Taylor and Mattie. The themes of motherhood - surprised by motherhood - and resiliency in the face of relentless obstacles is one that always comforts me. I picked it up because I needed comforting.
Julie G
Oct 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
Let me tell you something. . . if Barbara Kingsolver's fictional characters suddenly spring to life and buy houses in my beloved neighborhood. . . I'm moving.

Is it because they are creeps and criminals?

No. 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
Lyn Elliott
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
Apr 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Another book that I read and loved in high school that I am filing here. I have since read Pigs in Heaven, Animal Dreams, and The Poisonwood Bible.
Chris Gager
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 1988. So far ... the author leans on the Kountry Kute button rather heavily, but I'm OK with it - 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 ...more
Nov 29, 2010 rated it did not like it
When I received this book in English class I had some hope for it. I had mixed reviews from friends, but most friends of mine were telling me they disliked the book.

I went and read the synopsis on the back. Thought to myself "Hmm, this could be a really good story."Then I started to read it. The book starts off relatively slow. I dismissed this, as many books are slightly slower at the beginning and pick up later in the book.

I continued reading and was absolutely 110% disappointed by this book.
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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, ...more

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Greer Family (2 books)
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