The Music of Bees

Eileen Garvin. Dutton, $26 (336p) ISBN 978-0-593-18392-2
In Garvin’s affecting debut novel (after the memoir How to Be a Sister), three misfits come together to save the local bee population of Hood River, Ore. One night, Alice Holtzman, a hobbyist beekeeper, widower, and introvert who is beset with panic attacks and “held together by cookies, solitary driving, and the sheer determination not to go crazy in public,” nearly runs over teenager Jake Stevenson in his wheelchair. They get to talking about her bees, and Alice surprises herself by offering the depressed Jake a place to stay so he can escape his abusive father. Jake is soon followed by Harry Stokes, whom Alice hires for some carpentry work and offers a free room in her bunkhouse. After Alice is slighted for an overdue promotion, she quits her job and the three turn their attention to stopping the pesticide conglomerate SupraGro, known for decimating bee populations in other states. After a slow start, the SupraGro plot gives some structure to the novel but also weighs it down by distracting from the heart of the story: the three characters and their personal growth. The bees are an obvious metaphor (“single-minded creatures that each worked tirelessly for the whole”), but it works, and Garvin gets the local color right, such as Harry’s kiteboarding on the Columbia. While predictable, the story is genuinely touching. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 01/19/2021
Release date: 04/27/2021
Genre: Fiction
Book - 1 pages - 978-0-593-18394-6
Library Binding - 578 pages - 978-1-4328-9017-9
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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