The Fiction Fox
Review: The Hour of Bees - Lindsay Eager
Genre: Middlegrade, Magical Realism Published: Candlewick Press, March 2016 My Rating: 5/5 stars
“Most stories don’t end” he says. “They just turn into new beginnings”
I seem to have a particular soft spot when it comes to middlegrade stories. For some reason, maybe even more so than YA, it harbors some of these gems that transcend an age group and can be loved by anybody. I do think that The Hour of Bees is one of those underappreciated gems.
We follow Carolina, a twelve year old girl, over a summer where everything she knows seems to be changing. She is forced to spend the summer with her parents at her grandfathers remote desert farm, as he is suffering from the onset of Alzheimers disease. Initially, Carol isn’t thrilled about the prospect of being away from her friends and spending time with her gruff grandfather, who she barely knows, but as time passes, they develop a strange and beautiful friendship based on the one belief they have in common: that there is magic on this stretch of land. The Hour of Bees is so pure, sweet, sad and wise all at the same time. It’s also incredibly well executed from a writing perspective. The magical realism approach is perfect for this type of story, as it explores the boundary of what is real and what isn’t, and whether that matters or not. Carol and her grandfather are united by this whimsical, childlike perception of reality; she because of her age, he because of his illness, and it’s both heartwarming and heartbreaking to read about.
This is truly the type of book that I think everybody can get something from. Younger readers may find a whimsical, magical adventures of a girl and her grandpa, adults may see the bittersweet story of a child that is desperately trying to make sense of all the changes around her. No matter what you end up finding, this is a journey that is worth your time. Beautifully written (again: suited for both adults as children) and deeply heartfelt; this hidden gem needs to be dug up from the sands to be appreciated by everybody.
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