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BellaOnline's Women's Lit Editor

September Book of the Month

Usher in the crisp breezes of fall with September Book of the Month, The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver. This acclaimed book delves readers into the lives of extremely well-developed and diverse characters.

At the close of the book, I had to remind myself that this was a work of fiction, and the people weren�t real. Kingsolver's writing is that authentic and developed!

Under the theme of searching for something more far from home, the main character, Marietta Greer, leaves the life she's always known with her mom in rural Kentucky, packs up a beat-up car and makes for somewhere, anywhere, else. Not sure where she�ll end up, she drives, looking for her destiny.

But when her car breaks down in Illinois, Marietta changes her name to Taylor to define her new identity, and suddenly finds herself in an adventure like she never expected.

After eating at a greasy spoon near a Native American reservation in the southwest, Taylor is approached by a forlorn Indian woman pleading with her to take her sister's child and bring it to safety. The story takes an unexpected twist when Taylor accepts the child and drives until Arizona, where she decides she will stay.

It is in a desert town that she meets characters that are so random and raw that you begin to feel they must be real. Through the themes of finding friends where you least expect and helping others even when it hurts and pinches your life's plans, the narration by Taylor is ponderous, insightful for such a young girl, and gripping.

Like me, you will probably find yourself reflecting on your own life after reading this book, and finding spaces where you relate with Taylor and can laugh at the random events and fully-developed characters she meets along the way.

The Bean Trees is a great book club read because it deals with some deeper issues like living for something greater than yourself and forging a life amidst the unknown.

Woven into the title of the book is the bean trees that grow aggressively in a certain special space that Taylor encounters in her new life. And it is in the bean trees, and the insects that help them, that she sees purpose and sense in her own world, connecting this book into a satisfying finish on the last page.

For some book club snacks to accompany the book, try some of these southwestern recipes, ones that Taylor eats herself in her new Arizona residence.

Black bean quesadilla

Combine canned or cooked black beans with salsa and smooth onto one flat tortilla.

Sprinkle with desired toppings such as: shredded cheese, onions, green peppers, lettuce and tomatoes.

Top with another flat tortilla.

Broil at 500 degrees in oven for approximately 10 minutes.

Slice into pizza-type cuts and enjoy with salsa, guacamole, sour cream and chiles.

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