I have so many memories of time spent with my grandparents as I was growing up. I had a set of grandparents that I saw frequently. I have early memories of staying over night for days at a time. Playing in the basement. Time spent eating dinner at the big kitchen table. Getting to go on special excursions. Then when they moved to Arizona it would be extended trips that brought more memories. My other set of grandparents didn't live nearby but as a result, when I would go visit it would always be for an extended time. So while not as often, the longer visits left plenty of time for cultivating memories.
Hour of the Bees
by Lindsay Eagar
published by Candlewick
While I read Hour of the Bees, it was these memories that came forward and reminded me how valuable time can be.
Hour of the Bees is a story about family. Carol, our main character, has to leave her hometown of Albuquerque and live at her grandfather's ranch in the drought-ridden New Mexico desert for the summer. They are going to the ranch to fix it up and sell. They need to move her grandfather Serge, who she has never met, into a home as a result of his progressing dementia. Carol's relationship with her grandpa Serge and how it changes over time is the heart of this story. But different than your regular grandfather/granddaughter bonding story. Their story revolves around the telling of a story, one that helps explain her roots. It's a story that is told over time, throughout the book. We see Carol's view change as she hears more of this magical story. As we get glimpses of the past and the implications on what is happening in the present, we are drawn more into this family. By the time I was nearing the end of the book, I closed it, not wanting it to end, needing it to slow down. This magical story inside the story is beautifully written and one you soon won't forget.
This book is also about life and death. Serge's story centers around bees, a lake, a seed and one very special tree. All of these things, as they live, symbolize life - breathing and growing. It's when we take these things away, that we experience death. I think this magical story that we read is going to be an amazing topic for readers to talk about and write about.
"She didn't think; she accepted."
pg. 357 from the uncorrected copy
As I read this book I wrote down so many thoughts. I could probably fill up a week of blog posts of my thinking. Much of what I have to say, I would love to talk about. But you need to explore this book yourself. Find time to get lost in this story. It is brilliant. But full warning, it may take time to get over this book and start your next one.