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Insightful,
Pointless,
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3 reviews

The Bean Trees: A Novel
by Barbara Kingsolver

Published: 1998-09-09
Mass Market Paperback : 336 pages
7 members reading this now
44 clubs reading this now
4 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 2 of 3 members
Barbara Kingsolver's 1988 debut novel is a classic workof American fiction. Now a standard in college literature classes across thenation, and a book that appears in translation across the globe, The BeanTrees is not only a literary masterpiece but a popular triumph—anarrative that ...
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Introduction

Barbara Kingsolver's 1988 debut novel is a classic workof American fiction. Now a standard in college literature classes across thenation, and a book that appears in translation across the globe, The BeanTrees is not only a literary masterpiece but a popular triumph—anarrative that readers worldwide have taken into their hearts. The Los Angeles Times calls The Bean Trees “the work of a visionary. . . . It leaves you open-mouthed and smiling.”

Editorial Review

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Excerpt

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Discussion Questions



The Bean Trees deals with the theme of being an outsider. In what ways are various characters outsiders? What does this suggest about what it takes to be an insider? How does feeling like an outsider affect one’s life?

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

In many ways, the novel is “the education of Taylor Greer.” What does she learn about human suffering? About love?

The author has said of The Bean Trees: “I always think of a first novel as something like this big old purse you’ve been carrying around your whole life, throwing in ideas, characters, and all the things that have ever struck you as terribly important. One day, for whatever reason, you just have to dump that big purse out and there lies this pile of junk. You start picking through it, and assembling it into what you hope will be a statement of your life’s great themes. That’s how it was for me. It probably wasn’t until midway through the writing that I had a grasp of the central question: What are the many ways, sometimes hidden and underground ways, that people help themselves and each other survive hard times?” What are some of the ways that Kingsolver’s characters manage to get through hard times? If you were to write a book that contained some of your life’s great themes, what questions or concerns might you address?

--from the publisher

Suggested by Members

4. Taylor said several times in the book that she hated flat land because “it felt like you were always having to look too far to see the horizon” (Pg. 36). How do you think this applies to Taylor’s view of life?
5. Was it hard to transition from Taylor’s chapters to Lou Ann’s chapters in the beginning? Were you more connected to one character or the other during these chapters?
6. On page 79, Taylor mentions the poem “You are Old, Father William,” which is a parody of another poem. How do you think the mention of this poem helps us form an opinion of Father William in the book. Do you think the addition of this reference says
by [email protected] (see profile) 09/04/16

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Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
by ashultz (see profile) 12/22/19

 
  "No Depth"by clayng (see profile) 06/23/19

I could sum up the book in three sentences. The author put in useless details and never went very deep. Needed much more character development.

 
  "The Bean Trees"by [email protected] (see profile) 07/07/16

Written in the 1980's this book is still relevant today about a young girl finding her identity and place in the world. Deals with the subjects of child abuse, immigration, survival, womanhood, motherhood... (read more)

 
  "Great book for discussion."by book-junkie (see profile) 04/08/16

It was a great story, had interesting characters and a timely theme. Everyone enjoyed reading it.

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