Wednesday, May 26, 2021

The Music of Bees by Eileen Garvin


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I love novels about bees. Of course, when I'm outside and a bee is around, I'm always nervous I'll be stung! However, I'm on Team Bee and will grow as many flowers as I can for them to thrive and survive. 

This book had me up and down a few times. It started slow--or maybe it was me reading other books and picking this one up every once in awhile and reading a few pages. I was having a hard time connecting, and then when I properly dove in and read a chunk, I thought "hmmm, okay this is interesting". 

Then I hit a high note on my reading, and it all clicked in and I absolutely loved it. Every bit of it. Bees for the win!

This is a novel about three people who are all a bit lost, and beekeeping brings them together to heal. Alice, Jake, and Harry would never have known each other even though they all lived in the same smallish town of Hood River, Oregon. A place of stunning beauty, where nature is overwhelmingly present. 

Jake is nineteen, and stuck at his parent's home after becoming paralyzed in a stupid accident his senior year. His father is a horrible jackass, and his mother quietly goes about her business. Jake is lost. He spends his days in his wheelchair, fixing his mohawk and pushing his wheelchair down roads to get away from the empty house. He feels his life is over. 

Alice is a recent widow who is overwhelmed by her grief. So much so that she goes out of her way to interact with as few people as possible. She lives outside of town on a small acreage and keeps bees. 

Harry, oh, poor Harry. He's wandered around the country and is now staying at his great Uncle's run down mobile home out in the woods. He has no job and walks everywhere. He struggles to make sense of where life has led him and choices he's made. 

Everything is set in motion one night as Alice is driving back from Portland after picking up her order of bees to start her season of beekeeping. She swerves to avoid hitting Jake, who is wheeling along on the side of the road. The two meet, and circumstances lead to Jake staying at Alice's house to help her with the bees. And that is where the story kicks in and Jake blossoms. 

Harry sees an ad in the local job listings for part-time work and applies. That job is at Alice's place, doing light construction and clean up. 

The relationship between the three starts off a bit slow, but eventually they are a powerhouse together--Jake finds his purpose in beekeeping, and has an almost mystical ability to understand the bees. Harry and Jake become friends and help each other be brave. Alice slowly begins to put aside her grief and regrets. A pesticide company that is known to decimate bee populations has come to town, and a fight is lit in Alice. She finds her purpose, too. 

This was a novel that surprised me and left me with so many feelings at the end! I felt like I'd been on a journey with these characters and was just thrilled at their healing and moving forward. It was a joy to finish this book. Not at all what I expected--I guess I thought it would be a lighter story and a fun read. It wasn't dark, but definitely touched on dark issues: suicidal thoughts, devastating grief, an abusive parent, overcoming physical limitations, mental health. However, these issues were presented in a thoughtful way that added to the story and understanding characters. 

The bees!! I learned a lot about bees, too. They are amazing, and yes, magical. You'll understand the music of the bees.

Rating: 5/6 for a wonderfully uplifting novel about the healing power of nature and our deep connection to all things wild and wonderful. A moving story of unlikely friendships and connections, and the unlimited potential in all of us. 

Available in hardcover ebook, and audio.

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