An exquisite story about family, love, and loss, Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eagar is a moving tribute to personal history, and the stories that make us who we are.
While her friends are spending their summers having pool parties and sleepovers, twelve-year-old Carolina — Carol — is spending hers in the middle of the New Mexico desert, helping her parents move the grandfather she’s never met into a home for people with dementia. At first, Carol avoids prickly Grandpa Serge. But as the summer wears on and the heat bears down, Carol finds herself drawn to him, fascinated by the crazy stories he tells her about a healing tree, a green-glass lake, and the bees that will bring back the rain and end a hundred years of drought. As the thin line between magic and reality starts to blur, Carol must decide for herself what is possible — and what it means to be true to her roots. Readers who dream that there’s something more out there will be enchanted by this captivating novel of family, renewal, and discovering the wonder of the world.
A story filled with magic, but rooted deeply in reality, Hour of the Bees is filled with lovely prose and lovingly flawed characters, and the crazy-beautiful way they each make up the whole of a family. Though the focus of this novel is on Carol — and we experience the story through her perspective — Hour of the Bees is really the story about three generations. It covers the prickly differences and arguments that can tear families apart, and the love and magic that can bring them together.
I loved the balance between the grittiness of the story’s present day timeline, and the sparkling, dazzling contrast of Grandpa Serge’s stories. The push and pull, and clash of these two worlds — and seeing how they start to merge and seep into one another — is truly lovely, and a feat that Eagar handles with such grace and poise in her prose. It’s a fluid and natural transition, as the story builds and builds to a quiet but intensely moving climax.
In some ways, Hour of the Bees is Carol’s coming-of-age story. In many ways, it’s about her family’s coming-together — a “coming-of-age” of sorts for all three generations. Elegant prose and thoughtful storytelling combine to make Hour of the Bees a truly magnificent book for all ages to read and share. Look for it in stores March 8th.