My first semester of college, I had a life changing literature course. The title of the course was "quest for self", and we read works by Achebe, Winterson, and Kingsolver. This was my first introduction to the lyric world of Barbara Kingsolver, and she is still at the top of my favorite authors list.
I've read "The Bean Trees" before, but this year, I had the opportunity to teach it to my developmental reading students at the community college. Reading a book for fun is one thing, but teaching it is another: I really got a chance to appreciate the careful beauty of the prose, Kingsolver's rich metaphors, and, of course, the story itself.
Taylor Greer leaves her rural Kentucky home in search of something more. She's managed to avoid getting pregnant (a fate most of her peers have already succumbed to) but within a few days of leaving home, she finds herself the caregiver of a badly abused Native American toddler. Taylor calls the child Turtle, and the two of them eventually make a home in Tuscon, Arizona. The novel boasts a vibrant cast of characters, and as Taylor's story unfolds, she comes face to face with issues of racism, immigration, and welfare in the United States.
If you've never read Barbara Kingsolver, any one of her novels will captivate you. This is her first, and it's a touching, powerful read. Even my students, all of whom are self-proclaimed "non readers", have been captivated by this book.
What are you reading this weekend? What's your favorite work by Kingsolver?