Books Reviewed by CKT

Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eagar

Published by Walker Books

Stories never end.

They just turn into new beginnings.

When Carol moves to her grandfather's deserted ranch for the summer, she struggles to cope with the effect of his dementia and the dizzying heat. What's more, bees seem to be following her around. Surely she must be imagining things, but her grandfather's stories suggest otherwise. As Carol starts to grasp the meaning of his words, she realizes that her family's past is quickly catching up with her present.

A searing story about family love and finding your roots.

Twelve year old Carol arrives at Grandpa Serge's two hundred acre sheep ranch in the desert. The ranch literally is in the middle of nowhere. It's like its own little city, the sheep its woolly citizens. It is so dry the grass is swamp coloured and crunchy. Carol is there for the summer with her stressed father, calming mother, moody big sister, Alta and curious baby brother, Lu. It's the last place she wants to be while her friends are having a summer filled with pool parties and barbecues. But the family is on a mission: to clean the house and transfer Grandpa Serge into a retirement home. And to make the time there even harder, there are rules while they stay at the stinking hot ranch; rules as stated in the 'Seville's Guide to Dementia for Caregivers'.

As the sticky, hot days roll on, Carol and Grandpa Serge make a connection, little by little, even though the grandfather lapses in and out of time, from the present to the past and back again, and sometimes calls Carol, Rosa, the name of her deceased grandmother who had a bad case of wanderlust. Grandpa Serge repeats the same phrase over and over again, "No rain for a hundred years means no bees. No rain means no flowers. No flowers means no bees." Then he weaves an intriguing story about a magical flowering tree, from which Carol learns of her grandparents fascinating history. The story is so close to the fine line between imaginary and real that you won't know if it really happened or not.

Author, Lindsay Eagar has written a brilliant story that will draw you into the depth and breadth of the characters. Her story telling is beautiful, searching and poignant, making Hour of the Bees a compelling read.

Reviewed by Julieann Wallace
CKT Book Reviewer

Author: Lindsay Eagar
Title: Hour of Bees
Publisher: Walker Books
ISBN: 9781406368154
Published: March 2016
Age: 11+


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