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Friday, December 30, 2016

Sprinkles of Magical Realism Make MG Coming-of-Age Story Unique

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

The last place 12-year-old Carol wants to spend her summer vacation is on an isolated sheep ranch in the New Mexico desert.  While her friends are lounging by the pool, she'll be sweating to death as she helps care for an elderly stranger with dementia.  Yes, Serge is her grandfather, but it's not like she's ever met him before.  Unfortunately, there's nothing she can do to change her pathetic situation—her stressed-out parents need Carol's help to clean up and sell the ranch so they can move Grandpa Serge into a care home.  

Carol doesn't take most of what Serge says seriously.  His mind is going, right?  So, why does it sting so much when he admonishes her not to spit on her Mexican heritage?  And why do his crazy stories about a healing tree and magic bees strike such a chord with her?  Grandpa Serge has no idea what he's talking about.  Or does he?  

As Carol learns to appreciate the things that matter most, she'll come to some surprising conclusions about herself, her family, and a desolate ranch that's filled with more possibility than she ever could have imagined. 

Hour of the Bees, a debut novel by Lindsay Eager, tells a compelling coming-of-age story about roots, relationships, and redemption.  Its blend of magical realism and plain ole realism makes it unique.  Carol's voice seems authentically twelve, in all of its whiny/whimsical glory.  The tale does get preachy and overly sentimental, especially toward the end.  It also has a very far-fetched finale that kind of soured the story for me.  Overall, though, Hour of the Bees makes for an enjoyable read with some important messages.  Be warned, though:  the heavy subject matter might be a tad much for more sensitive middle grade readers.


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for scary scenes/scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Hour of the Bees from the generous folks at Candlewick Press.  Thank you!


  1. Well, it's too bad it got preachy. It sounded like it would be good. It's strange that it's a middle grade but maybe too heavy for middle graders. :(

  2. Thank you so much for the mention of WHEN THE BUTTERFLIES CAME, Susan! I appreciate it. Your synopsis also made me think about CIRCLE OF SECRETS. The family dynamics and conflicts between parents. :-) This book sounds intriguing, especially since it takes place in New Mexico.

  3. This one sounds good, and I think my daughter would like it.


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