Book Review “The Bean Trees” by Barbara Kingsolver

I just finished the book “The Bean Trees” by Barbara Kingsolver.

This book is touching, and adventurous. I highly recommend it.

It is about a young lady growing up in slow paced, behind the times, in rural Kentucky. This book took places in late 70’s to early 80’s, but when Marietta was in Kentucky is sounded like 40’s and 50’s.

Marietta Greer is a strong willed teenager in high school, who was determined to not get pregnant while in school, like many of her classmates.

She got a job in the local hospital by her teacher. She was in a sense made for more than what rural Kentucky has for her, and she was above the times for Kentucky.

When she graduated she got a car, and took off. She decided to go as far west as her car would take her. She changed her name to Taylor Greer.

Her car broke down in Oklahoma in Cherokee land. She was also quarter Cherokee. She went into a bar to get something to eat and some coffee because she was exhausted from driving. There was a older lady with a blanket on her in the car. The older lady followed Taylor out to the bar and when Taylor got into her car, the older lady sat in her passengers seat and revealed that she has a three year old child under her blanket. The older lady told Taylor to take the child, because it was her dead sisters child.

She didn’t know what to do with this little girl. She was petrified, she didn’t know what to do with this little girl.

She stayed in a hotel, and worked to earn her stay, she has an agreement with the two lady’s that owned the hotel. She gave the three year old “Turtle” is what she named her, a bath and realized that she sexually abuse.

Taylor got her car fixed and drove off. She ended up in Tucson, Arizona. She met a lady who had an alignment shop. She was a very nice, welcoming older lady. She fed Turtle and very good with kids.

Turtle didn’t speak and just stared off into the distance, she was traumatized but later on she would come out of her shell and start talking and being social.

She finds a room mate Lou Ann. Lou Ann’s husband has just left her with an infant son. Lou Ann is always from Kentucky. They get a long very well.

Taylor gets a job at the tire store, where she first broke down. She meets Esperanza and Estevan whom are in America to escape the Central America’s government whom took their daughter away from them, who Turtle resembles.

Taylor had a run in with the social worker, and she was going to get Turtle taken away from her so she, being the strong will that she is, drove to Cherokee Nation with Turtle, Esperanza and Estevan. She was going to get adoption papers and take Esperanza and Estevan to a safe house at a church for immigrants.

So they drive to Oklahoma, and they take a one day vacation. Then they go to the notary, to get adoption papers. This wasn’t easy to do, she was nervous, and the odds of her getting custody of Turtle.

Taylor, being intelligent and witty comes up with a plan. She told Esperanza and Estevan to dress poorly to pretend that Turtle was their child, and that they cannot care for her and were too poor to feed her. They play it off very well and she gets her custody papers!!!!

This was very suspenseful, full of adventure and touching.

Turtle was obsessed with plants and gardening. Her first word was beans. Bean trees is another word for a Wisteria plant, and symbolized that it can grow regardless of what it has been through.




That time I found out I had an adopted cousin through 23& me. ( Adoption story that turned out fantastic)

It turned out more than fantastic.

I did a 23& me test almost two years ago. It was fun and interesting to find out where my ancestors came from. Then I looked at my DNA matches, (where you view your DNA relatives). I saw my Uncle, then I saw more people I knew. I saw a close match and didn’t think anything of it. Then my Mom called me up because I gave her my password to my 23 & me so that she could see my results. She told me one of your Uncle’s had a baby and put it in up for adoption. I was excited but I misunderstood her. I was like “a baby”? I wanted to keep the baby, I love babies, she was like no, one of your Uncle’s fathered a child that is older than you and is looking for their biological family.

So right away I logged into 23 & me, I was beyond excited, I was ecstatic, I could not wait to meet my new found cousin already. I I wrote him and told him “Hello long lost cousin, please write me with any questions you may have it’s so nice to meet you”. He also had very vague information about his adopted family that matched up. He posted on his profile that his Grandpa was a principal and yes, my Grandpa was indeed a principal. So, we just talked about everything. My late Uncle who was not his Dad also contacted him and encouraged me to reach out to him. My Uncle has since passed a few months ago in July from a sudden, unexpected heart attack at  the age of 63. I got to finally meet my cousin at our Uncle’s funeral.

I would talk to my cousin at least once a week. We really clicked. 

After a year of talking to him, I told him to take a test because his biological sister and father took one.  So he did and a month later, his sister contacted him through  She was so happy! She said she was going to talk to her Dad, my Uncle, his Dad.

So then finally all the puzzle pieces started coming together. He talked to his Dad and he said that he could ask him anything and he will answer. He asked who his Mom was. My Uncle told him. He then found his Mom. He emailed his Mom a long letter, and she replied “whoa”, I promise I will email you in the morning, I need to process this.

To make a long story short, he got to go and meet his Mom and his brother. I didn’t get to see it but it is such a beautiful thing. His brother cried because he always wanted a brother. His Mom too cried of course. Then he got to meet his Dad and sister. Which is obviously my Uncle and cousin. I was so incredibly happy for everyone!

I remember when my Grandma had Alzheimers she told me that there’s “one that I don’t know about”, referring to babies in the family, then it clicked. I should of listened to her because Alzheimers patients don’t always lose long term memory.

I was so glad to help him find his biological family. I wonder what it is like to be adopted and not know where you come from biologically speaking. He had outstanding parents and a good upbringing. He has his master’s degree, he felt like he belonged in his adopted family but he still wanted to know where he came from for learning  his identity as a person. He is from Mexico, which is cool to me because I’ve been fascinated with the Latino culture. I grew up in a Latino predominant area. I can speak Spanish with him. He is so intelligent, he speaks English better than me! It’s also fascinating because of the genetics vs environment factor and how much each factor plays into our lives.

I finally got to meet him. It was the most awesome thing in the world to learn that you have a cousin that you have never known about, until you are 35 years old. We had the best uplifting family reunion that words can’t describe. He came out for our Uncle’s funeral. My heart was just shattered. I was close to our Uncle. He died so unexpectedly of a heart attack. My cousins visiting really uplifted my spirits and brought me out of a depression. We went out to eat and to an outdoor mall, we had BBQs and visited until late hours of the night. We have a big family so it was loads of fun. I talked about what my Uncle was like, whom he’ll never get to meet.

We had the most awesome 4 day family reunion. Then he had to go home and we all miss him. We will see each other again soon.

Now totally 100% recommend getting a DNA test through 23 & me, or ancestry, or both. You may have family secrets like me. You never know. I also have third or fourth adopted cousins looking for their families so I don’t think it is rare. I know not all adoption stories turn out great, but mine with my cousin did, and I couldn’t be happier.

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