Thursday, March 24, 2016

Hour of the Bees

Hour of the Bees. Lindsay Eagar. 2016. Candlewick. 360 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I adored Lindsay Eagar's Hour of the Bees. Sometimes I wish 'reviewing' books was as simple as saying: READ THIS BOOK. TRUST ME. But it's never that simple. Words have to be found somehow to try to do this book justice.

Carol, the heroine, isn't exactly thrilled that she'll be spending the summer with her family on her grandfather's sheep farm in the New Mexico desert. Her father and grandfather have not gotten along, and so this is the first time he'll be meeting his grandchildren: Carol and Lu. (Or as he likes to call them Carolina and Luis. There is also Carol and Lu's half-sister, Alta.) Since they don't get along, why are they going? For the simple reason that he is getting older, and, he has dementia. He "needs" to be at a facility where he can be looked after closely. Living on an isolated drought-plagued farm miles away from any town is not an option anymore. But as you might imagine, he does not want to go; he doesn't want to leave the home he shared with his wife, Rosa. (Rosa died the same day Carol was born.)

Perhaps the first day was a bit of a struggle full of strange, awkward moments where no one was quite comfortable. But relatively soon after their arrival, Carol becomes drawn to her grandpa like a magnet. She especially loves to hear him tell stories. The stories are vivid and magical, and, they almost always start the same way: Once upon a time, there was a tree...

The family works HARD; it is exhausting work in the heat. And whether the drought has been 'a hundred years' like her grandfather claimed, or just a few years, it is HOT and miserable. Yet Carol finds herself having the best summer of her life. How can this be?!

One unusual thing about this summer is that bees seem to follow Carol EVERYWHERE. She is always seeing or hearing bees. Her grandfather, Serge, claims that the bees will bring the rain. That it was in fact the bees who took the lake--each one taking one drop of the lake as they flew off...

The stories Serge tells feel timeless...and that's one reason why Carol can't get enough of them. But can she actually believe in her grandfather's stories? Will you?

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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