Barbara Kingsolver is one of my most favouritist bestest most fantabulous incrediblest writers ever. She would never, for example, write that sentence. Her writing is so understated and full of the sweet and the painful details of everyday life. Her characters are just so believable and layered; there are no unidimensional villains or angels here. Bad things sometimes happen to good people, and then those good people muddle through and do their best to be good animals (Kingsolver’s the one who inspired my tagline), and to make sense and meaning of the world around them.
Kingsolver’s touch feels so light but really it runs deep and, in my case at least, it is indelible. She treats all the isms with profound delicacy: race and gender and homophobia and disability and class and age and religion and mental illness are all in there, but difference is treated so matter-of-factly that it ceases to seem different and becomes simply the way life is.
I have read this book many times over the years. My ragged copy is over twenty years old. Kingsolver reminds me that even in the face of horrific things, we can be generous, we can be kind, and we can do better next time.
The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver. ISBN 0060915544.
Wait, there’s more! So I was looking for an image of the book to insert into this post and I saw that this book has been banned in some places for sexual scenes and vulgar language. Huh? I do believe I’ve seen far worse on Gilmore Girls. Seriously, I would let any kid read this book. And I recommend it to anyone. Highly. Unreservedly. Insistently!