Twelve-year-old Carol would rather be enjoying summer vacation with her friends, not stuck on a dilapidated ranch in the parched New Mexico desert. Her family is preparing to sell the property and move her grandfather, Serge, into assisted living before his dementia advances further. But as Carol gets to know Serge, his stories open up a world that she’d never known before.
Debut author Lindsay Eagar infuses this story with rich metaphors and real magic. Carol’s Mexican-American family tends to emphasize their American side, but life on the ranch with Serge shows Carol the value of deep roots—both figuratively and literally, as their land is in a century-long drought. Eagar’s language is poetic and lovely, and the story-within-a-story is a heartbreaker. The relationships between bees and water, and life versus living, would make for a terrific book club discussion.
Hour of the Bees is as grand as the landscape it springs from, an ode to family and heritage but also to living fearlessly. Forget about the middle-grade designation; everyone who reads this will be touched, and quite possibly moved to re-secure their family ties. Dreamlike while also gritty and real, this is a gorgeous work of art.