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The Bean Trees | 1988

The Bean Trees is a book readers have taken to their hearts. It is now a standard in college literature classes across the nation and has been translated for a readership stretching from Japan to Romania.

When it was first published, however, its author was unknown. Word of mouth spread slowly among booksellers, librarians, critics and readers with a passion to share their favorite books. In The Bean Trees they found a spirited protagonist, Taylor Greer, who grew up in poor in rural Kentucky with the goals of avoiding pregnancy and getting away. But when Taylor heads west with high hopes and a barely functional car, she meets the human condition head-on. By the time she arrives in Tucson, she has acquired a completely unexpected child and must somehow come to terms with both motherhood and the necessity for putting down roots. Hers is a story about love and friendship, abandonment and belonging, and the discovery of surprising resources in apparently empty places.

Most readers of The Bean Trees discovered the novel in its paperback edition. On the 10th anniversary of its first publication, HarperFlamingo is proud to offer readers this special hardback edition, redesigned to be easy on the eyes and priced to be accessible to every lover of good fiction.

Critics' Praise

“As clear as air. It is the Southern novel taken West, its colors as translucent and polished as one of those slices of rose agate from a desert shop.”
— NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

“The work of a visionary. . . . It leaves you open-mouthed and smiling.” 
— LOS ANGELES TIMES

“So wry and wise we wish it would never end. … The down-home audacity of Barbara Kingsolver’s remarkable first novel hooks us on the first page.”
— SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

“Idealistic and exhilarating, The Bean Trees is a book that combines the most careful craft with a moral code that is loving and expansive.”
— PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER

The Bean Trees is a story propelled by a marvelous ear, a fast-moving humor, and the powerful undercurrent of human struggle. … There are surprises in the book. There is adventure. And there is resolution, as believable as it is gratifying.”
— MARGARET RANDALL, WOMEN’S REVIEW OF BOOKS

“A major new talent. From the very first page, Kingsolver’s characters tug at the heart and soul.”
— KAREN FITZGERALD, MS. MAGAZINE

“An astonishing literary debut. … For a deep breath of fresh air, spend some time in the neighborhood of The Bean Trees.”
— COSMOPOLITAN

“This is the story of a lovable, resourceful ‘instant mother,’ one who speaks, acts, and learns for herself, becoming an inspiration to us all.”
— GLAMOUR

“A lively first novel … an easy book to enjoy.”
— THE NEW YORKER

“An extraordinarily good first novel, tough and tender and gritty and moving, with a wonderful particularity and tart Southwestern bit. Kingsolver’s heroine is little short of magnificent.”
— ANNE RIVERS SIDDONS, AUTHOR OF HOMEPLACE AND PEACHTREE ROAD

A spirited, warm book, wry and at the same time refreshingly guileless, full of jarry insights which are often jarringly funny. Barbara Kingsolver is obviously a writer of much talent and originality.”
— ELLA LEFFLAND, AUTHOR OF RUMORS OF PEACE

“A lovely, funny, touching, and humane debut, reminiscent of the work of Hilma Wolitzer and Francine Prose.”
— KIRKUS REVIEWS

“This funny, inspiring book is a marvelous affirmation of risk-taking, commitment, and everyday miracles … an overwhelming delight, as random and unexpected as real life.”
— PUBLISHERS WEEKLY