The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver

Four stars, read in 2010.

This book is fabulous and I loved it. The characters are funny and deep and easy to care about, and as always, Kingsolver’s writing is gorgeous. (I didn’t know until now that this was her first novel!) It’s about a girl from Kentucky who takes in an abandoned baby on her way to Arizona, where she meets a lot of people and becomes friends with themincluding a refugee Guatemalan couple who are there illegally, and a woman who runs a sanctuary for people like them. The protagonist, Taylor, expresses many of the same things that I feel about the “immigration issue” in the United States.

Between the baby she adopts and the refugee couple she becomes close with, Taylor goes through a lot in the way of learning about the world and understanding why people are the way they are; and while much of that learning comes through tragedy, in the end you can feel happy for her because of how many good things she also has in her life. It’s a powerful book, and also really fun to read.

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