Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Second Book: The Bean Trees

Hello Bookworms! We hope everyone is enjoying (or enjoyed) the first book, The Northern Clemency. Don't worry if you're not done yet, you still have eight days, but we wanted to give a little more advanced notice on the second book so we would all have more time to find a copy. (Added benefit: It's paperback!) We won't be starting the second book until after we've had some time to discuss the first one, so no rush. For anyone who found us mid-book and has been waiting to join, now is a great time!

Without further ado, our second book will be: The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver. This was Kingsolver's debut book back in the late 80s, long before she wrote her bestseller, The Poisonwood Bible. The Bean Trees follows the adventures of a young girl from Kentucky as she travels west and confronts life experiences that are both ordinary and extraordinary.

So, start keeping an eye out for the book. If you need some help, check out our tools in the sidebar. Stay tuned for more info. in the coming weeks! If you have any questions, send us an e-mail.

Photo Credit: Books.Google


  1. "...with baby beatings, street brawls, and drug busts." What more could you ask for? Looking forward to it.

  2. @Amy I am too! I've read Poisonwood Bible and her writing is enthralling, mixed with real facts.

  3. I finished the book a few weeks ago and I loved it.

  4. The countdown technically says you still have 12 hours, but let's get the discussion going! To start us off:

    What did you think of the book overall?

    Most of the main characters are women, strong women. What did you think of them?

    Some interesting topics were broached, including the issue of illegal immigrants. The book was published in 1988. Why do you think Kingsolver included this aspect of the story? Do you think we look at it differently in 2009?

    I will come back and answer my own questions soon. Can't wait to hear what everyone else thought!

  5. Hi Guys-I have a few discussion questions to get us going. Feel free to answer them but then come up with your own as well. Just use the "@" symbol and numbers to reference a person or question so we can all keep track :)

    1)What do you think about the way Taylor changes her name in the beginning of the book? Why does she think she needs a new name?

    2) Why do you think Taylor kept the baby, even though she ran away from Kentucky to KEEP from having a child?

    3) The Bean Trees deals with the theme of being an outsider. In what ways are various characters outsiders?

    4) How and why do the characters change, especially Lou Ann, Taylor and Turtle?

  6. 1) I thought this was interesting. Taylor changed her name because not only was she starting over, but I saw it symbolically as letting go of her past. New name, new life and one that is strong and doesn't reflect so much of where she came from.

    4) I think that all three of the women become stronger. They undertsand each other better and learn that as quirky as their situation may be, it's okay to trust. Taylor matures years beyond her age and I think Lou Ann finally realizes that she doesn't need to be with her ex-husband and that she is enough, herself. This was gratifying to see for all three of their struggles.

  7. 1) I agree, Grace. It symbolizes a new start, and a clean break from the negative things she was leaving behind.

    Re: illegal immigrants--I thought this part of the story was really interesting, and I liked the messages Kingsolver delivered through it. Mattie risked everything to help Esperanza and Estevan throughout. Taylor did the same for them towards the end and they certainly paid her back by making sure she could keep Turtle.

  8. First off, my apologies for not posting sooner. Second, wonderful book choice. I cannot tell you the last time I read a book I could not put down. And what a humorous and relatable writer Kingslover is!
    The theme that seemed to span the book was family and the different shapes it can take on. Beginning with Missy Marietta Taylor and her mom and ending with Taylor and all of the wonderful people that were brought into her life throughout the book. You have the family unit between Taylor and Turtle which Taylor takes upon herself so wholly it was as if she had given birth to the child in the back seat.
    @Grace in response to your question #2 It seems to me that when Taylor was given the baby she innately knew that place was not safe and she had a responsibility to get the child to safety. That responsibility seemed to take on a new form after Taylor realized the child had been abused. I liked Taylor's theory that no one would have children if they didn't end up pregnant. I thought, even without knowing where she came from that could give a good inclination of her background.
    Maddie became Taylor's mom away from home. Mattie has her own surrogate family living above her tire shop. Edna and her friend (I’m sorry I’ve forgotten some names w/o the book) are their own family unit and become an extension of the family Luanne and Taylor develop, like grandparents for their children.
    @ Grace question #4. For Luanne, the family unit she develops with Taylor seems to be the healthiest she's ever experienced. I think this ultimately leads to her growth. Taylor provides encouragement where Luanne is use to pessimism and discouragement. For Taylor I think it's Turtle and the responsibility outside of herself that leads to her personal growth. For Taylor's entire life she was the most important person for herself and her mother, not that she was spoiled, but she was not so aware of the world outside of her own.

  9. weird... it usually comes up as itsmeamy

  10. @Amy: Great point about Taylor, she learned some very valuable lessons and was forced to become more aware of the world around her.

  11. I am currently reading Kingsolver's 'Animal, Vegetable, Miracle' and highly recommend it.