Books by State: Oregon

The Music of Bees by Eileen Garvin

“Forty-four-year-old Alice Holtzman is stuck in a dead-end job, bereft of family, and now reeling from the unexpected death of her husband. Alice has begun having panic attacks whenever she thinks about how her life hasn’t turned out the way she dreamed. Even the beloved honeybees she raises in her spare time aren’t helping her feel better these days.

In the grip of a panic attack, she nearly collides with Jake–a troubled, paraplegic teenager with the tallest mohawk in Hood River County–while carrying 120,000 honeybees in the back of her pickup truck. Charmed by Jake’s sincere interest in her bees and seeking to rescue him from his toxic home life, Alice surprises herself by inviting Jake to her farm.

And then there’s Harry, a twenty-four-year-old with debilitating social anxiety who is desperate for work. When he applies to Alice’s ad for part-time farm help, he’s shocked to find himself hired. As an unexpected friendship blossoms among Alice, Jake, and Harry, a nefarious pesticide company moves to town, threatening the local honeybee population and illuminating deep-seated corruption in the community. The unlikely trio must unite for the sake of the bees–and in the process, they just might forge a new future for themselves.” — Amazon’s summary

This was one of the most uplifting books I’ve read during this reading challenge. It is truly a beautiful story of budding friendships but also about finding yourself – where you belong and what you are meant to do. That’s something I’ve really been looking for in my personal life, so finding a book like this that encapsulates that feeling in such a positive way was really nice.

I was speaking with a friend recently about how I feel much more connected to characters in books than I do in movies. When I’m reading, I just find myself transported inside the character’s head, and I feel so much more deeply what they feel. This happened several times for me in this book with all three main characters but especially with Alice. When reading the sections focusing on Alice’s point of view, I felt like I was feeling every emotion exactly how she did. I felt her pain. I felt her anger. And I felt her happiness when everything came together in a perfectly happy ending. With both her and Harry, I related the most to their anxieties – Harry even more so since his was strongly rooted in social anxiety whereas Alice’s anxieties were more trauma based. I truly felt for Harry. He was used and let himself be used for the sake of not being completely alone. I’ve done things or let things slide for that same reason, so I understand Harry more so than Jake or Alice. With Jake, I related to the uncertainty of what comes next, what does the future hold? Of course, his uncertainties are way beyond my comprehension as I am not paraplegic, but I feel like everyone has that slight fear of the future and worrying that your simply stuck with the hand you are given, no matter how shitty it is. Seeing all of them come out of their shells of negative thinking to blossom into people of action who are passionate about their dreams enough to wrestle control of the steering wheel was honestly kind of cathartic.

Obviously, I would give the character writing a 10/10 for this novel. I am going to give the same score totally across the board. Setting was written beautifully, the tone was perfect throughout, the loving message was touching and effective, and I am much more interested in the little honeybee now! This is definitely one to check out 🙂

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