Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Bean Trees - Chapter 1

Come read The Bean Trees and Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver with us!

So we meet Taylor Greer. And her mom. How much do you love her mom?

Girl, I've seen you eat a worm whole when you were five. He's no better than you are, and none of them Candy Stripers either.

And then Taylor meets a child. I'm glad this happened right in the first chapter.

We did need to learn about Taylor's home town and her background. The people and events she tells about give us a very clear sense of what she's coming from. They are relevant and telling, but then we move on. This book does not take place in Kentucky.

I like the way Kingsolver is able to convey the slightly surreal quality of the encounter with the woman outside the bar. I mean, it was all very real, in the physical sense. A coherent conversation, a child being placed in a car. But life-changing events do have that other-worldly quality to them.

I waited a minute, thinking that soon my mind would clear and I would understand what she was saying.
I had a foggy understanding that I wasn't arguing the right point.

Then once she has the child, it's all reality, all the time. Because it is, with children.

Push-starting the car. Staying awake. (Well, okay, there was the brief flirtation with "what if it's dead?" but I chalk that up mainly to sleepiness and driving on and on through the nothingness.) Realizing she needs to find a place to stay. With no money. Choosing the hotel and talking the lady into letting them stay. Unpacking.

Discovering the girl's injuries did not send Taylor back into a surreal frame of mind. She was familiar with the effects of crime and abuse - and with their lifelong consequences. To the contrary, there is nothing more real than an abused child.

When the girl was thrust upon her, Taylor didn't have any choice but to take her somewhere, at least for the night. Realizing just what the girl was escaping grounded Taylor and led her to a conscious decision to keep the child.

Chapter 2 is quite short, so let's read both 2 and 3 this week.


Bob May 04, 2008 10:09 AM  

I was totally sucked in from the first paragraph. Her description of how she grew up reminded me so much of where I grew up, and the "deadendedness" of the area. And so I can totally identify with her desire to get away.

I also identified with the push-starting of the car, as I once had a VW bus that I drove without a starter for six months.

The whole scene in the bar reminded me of Cormac McCarthy's writing.

The injuries to the baby disturbed me very much and I was glad that the author sort of "glossed over" that.

I also loved the last paragraph of the chapter:

"I found my head rights, Mama. They're coming with me."

I'm looking forward to what comes next.

Christina May 04, 2008 10:13 AM  

I also think it's really interesting how matter-of-fact she is about what it means to be female. The guys reading might be all "OMG, that's terrible!" while I think most of us women will be all "And..?" She was horrified but not surprised about the abuse of the child she is handed. She talks about being pregnant and barefoot. She describes Jolene's predicament. She talks about the old woman working the overnight shift for her son. She talks about the NA woman and all without any eyebrow raised. That's just the way it is. And it really is the way it is.

I think the comments re: head rights are very interesting as well, wherein she really contrasts the idea of the perception of life on the Rez, "If things get tough, we can always claim our head rights." and the reality of it, she would rather break her own rule and pay to leave the place than stay. She "takes her head rights with her."--naivete, abuse, abandonment. She talks of KY being a place where one can hope and OK as being a place without hope. That is a pretty apt description of life as it really is on the Rez.

pidomon May 04, 2008 10:15 AM  

she describes Oklahoma very well.

"Oklahoma made me feel there was nothing left to hope for"

They should put that on their license plates!

Reminds me of a joke
You know why Texas doesn't fall into the Gulf?
Because Oklahoma sucks.

And 2 chapters this week? I had to wake up early this morning just to get one read.

oh all right

poppy fields May 10, 2008 6:51 AM  

I am a big BK fan, and have read those two books. I just finished Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and am now reading Prodigal Summer.

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