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The Bean Trees

By Barbara Kingsolver (4)

Alice Walker’s powerful novel, The Color Purple begins by introducing the resourceful Taylor Greer, part Cherokee Indian, who leaves her small Kentucky hometown where teenage motherhood determines the lives of many girls, loading her car and driving off to see what else the wide world offers. On her way, Taylor’s car breaks down in Oklahoma, not far from a Cherokee reservation, where she finds a small girl who has suffered physical abuse, and appears emotionally damaged. In an act of charity, Taylor decides to take the small girl on her trip, calling the girl Turtle, and figures the two of them must be connected in some grander scheme of things. Settling in Tucson, she meets Mattie and Lou Ann Ruiz, and moves in with Lou Ann and her son Dwayne Ray. Through Mattie, Taylor begins helping refugees, meeting Estevan and Esperanza, and learns how difficult life is for many people in Central America. When Turtle is threatened, Taylor finally decides to adopt her, and she implements a plan to help her friends elude immigration authorities, allowing her to become Turtle’s guardian. Walker’s novel is a beautiful and satisfying story of loyalties maintained and responsibilities met.

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