My 10 year old daughter, Molly, recommended this book to me. It’s the first time she’s ever given me a recommendation (it normally happens the other way around) so I was a bit excited and nervous at the same time. Would it be good? Would I enjoy it? Would I have passed it onto her if I’d gotten hold of it first? The short answer is, yes.
Hour of the Bees is a wonderful, heartfelt, magical coming of age story. Carol’s Grandfather, Serge, lives by himself on a sheep ranch in New Mexico while suffering from late stage dementia. Carol and her family are spending the entire summer holidays helping him pack up his home in order to move him into an assisted care facility. So while her friends swim and shop and spend their days together hanging out Carol is facing a summer with a man she has never met who isn’t “all there”. It’s not something she or any of her family are looking forward to.
Summer is stretching out before her and Carol is at first wary of her Grandpa Serge. With his scarred face and gruff manner he isn’t what she’d imagined. Neither is the ranch – dry, dusty and falling apart. Grandpa Serge tells Carol that it hasn’t rained for 100 years. He tells her that the bees turned up one day and carried off the lake. He tells her that one day they will bring back the rain.
This is essentially a story of family and the relationship between grandchildren and grandparents. It is also a story of the complexities of family, of making hard choices, of making wrong ones, of living, of why we leave and why we return to our roots and why at the end of it all we have to say goodbye.
I couldn’t help but be reminded of two of my favourite adult authors, Isabel Allende and Alice Hoffman, as I read Hour of Bees. Lindsay Eagar has written a beautiful, gentle story that deftly mixes the real world with just a touch of the magical. It brought a tear to my eyes and reminded me of how much I miss my Grandparents. The parent in me wondered what Molly had taken away from the story and I was surprised that her answer was so similar to my own – be true to who you are and to your families story, love and respect each other and most of all believe in a little bit of magic.
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Classification: Children’s, young adult & educational » Children’s & young adult fiction & true stories » Fantasy & magical realism (Children’s/YA)
(198mm x 129mm x mm)
Imprint: Walker Books Ltd
Publisher: Walker Books Ltd
Publish Date: 3-Mar-2016
Country of Publication: United Kingdom