But I recognized Kingsolver's name on another little gem I picked up at the thrift store one day: The Bean Trees. Apparently, this is now standard reading for many college lit classes, so there are all kinds of notes and summaries you can get online-- in case you need to write a paper, I guess. If you just want to enjoy it for fun, it is worth it. I'll give you a quick peek just to get you intrigued.
"Missy" Greer lives in rural Kentucky and her main goal is to finish high school, avoiding pregnancy. She begins to work at a hospital, and after certain unfortunate incidents, she decides to leave town for good. She buys an old VW bug and heads west. She decides that she is going to change her name, depending on the first town she ends up in when she runs out of gas! Thus, her name becomes Taylor after Taylorville. After that, she decides that she is going to settle wherever her car takes her. This doesn't work too well because she breaks down in middle-of-nowhere Oklahoma. She stops in at a diner to eat, then has a strange occurrence when she tries to leave. A woman shows up, shoves a young child into her car, begs her to take her since her mother is dead, and then takes off. Taylor reluctantly takes the orphaned child with her, and they make it into Arizona, Cherokee Nation. She discovers the child doesn't talk at all as an after-effect of being abused.
This begins the journey of how Taylor bonds with the child, whom she ultimately names "Turtle," and those she meets along the way who become very important figures in her new life. This book is written in first person, and I fell in love with the character of Taylor and her funny perspectives on everyone and everything. Kingsolver writes lines that make you want to repeat them out loud to your uninterested spouse, or write them down to put on your wall, just to read them over again. Take this description, for instance:
The two women were still moving toward us at an unbelievably slow pace. I thought of a game we used to play in school at the end of recess: See who can get there last. Edna had on a red-knit top, red plaid Bermuda shorts, and red ladies' sneakers with red soles. Virgie had on a tutti-frutti hat and a black dress printed all over with what looked like pills.
We crossed the Arizona state line at sunup. The clouds were pink and fat and hilarious-looking, like the hippo ballerinas in a Disney movie. The road took us through a place called Texas Canyon. . .it was a kind of forest, except that in place of trees there were all these puffy-looking rocks shaped like roundish animals and roundish people. Rocks stacked on top of one another like piles of copulating potato bugs.
The most amazing thing was the way that child held on. From the first moment I picked it up out of its nest of wet blanket, it attached itself to me by its little hands like roots sucking on dry dirt. I think it would have been easier to separate me from my hair.
Imagine my happiness when I finished this book, and discovered there is a sequel! The adventure continues in Pigs in Heaven.
Find out more at her website. Have fun and let me know what you think!