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“An exquisite debut that combines a moving tale of friendship with a fascinating primer on bees.” – People
“This heartwarming, uplifting story will make you want to call your own friends, not to mention grab some honey.” – Good Housekeeping
Three lonely strangers in a rural Oregon town, each working through grief and life's curveballs, are brought together by happenstance on a local honeybee farm where they find surprising friendship, healing--and maybe even a second chance--just when they least expect it.
Forty-four-year-old Alice Holtzman is stuck in a dead-end job, bereft of family, and now reeling from the unexpected death of her husband. Alice has begun having panic attacks whenever she thinks about how her life hasn't turned out the way she dreamed. Even the beloved honeybees she raises in her spare time aren't helping her feel better these days.
In the grip of a panic attack, she nearly collides with Jake--a troubled, paraplegic teenager with the tallest mohawk in Hood River County--while carrying 120,000 honeybees in the back of her pickup truck. Charmed by Jake's sincere interest in her bees and seeking to rescue him from his toxic home life, Alice surprises herself by inviting Jake to her farm.
And then there's Harry, a twenty-four-year-old with debilitating social anxiety who is desperate for work. When he applies to Alice's ad for part-time farm help, he's shocked to find himself hired. As an unexpected friendship blossoms among Alice, Jake, and Harry, a nefarious pesticide company moves to town, threatening the local honeybee population and illuminating deep-seated corruption in the community. The unlikely trio must unite for the sake of the bees--and in the process, they just might forge a new future for themselves.
Beautifully moving, warm, and uplifting, The Music of Bees is about the power of friendship, compassion in the face of loss, and finding the courage to start over (at any age) when things don't turn out the way you expect.
“A hopeful, uplifting story about the power of chosen family and newfound home and beginning again...but it’s the bees, with all their wonder and intricacy and intrigue, that make this story sing.”
–Laurie Frankel, New York Times bestselling author of This Is How It Always Is
"Eileen Garvin's debut novel is uplifting, funny, bold and inspirational. The Music of Bees sings!"
–Adriana Trigiani, New York Times bestselling author
In Garvin's affecting debut novel (after the memoir How to Be a Sister), three misfits come together to save the local bee population of Hood River, Ore. One night, Alice Holtzman, a hobbyist beekeeper, widower, and introvert who is beset with panic attacks and "held together by cookies, solitary driving, and the sheer determination not to go crazy in public," nearly runs over teenager Jake Stevenson in his wheelchair. They get to talking about her bees, and Alice surprises herself by offering the depressed Jake a place to stay so he can escape his abusive father. Jake is soon followed by Harry Stokes, whom Alice hires for some carpentry work and offers a free room in her bunkhouse. After Alice is slighted for an overdue promotion, she quits her job and the three turn their attention to stopping the pesticide conglomerate SupraGro, known for decimating bee populations in other states. After a slow start, the SupraGro plot gives some structure to the novel but also weighs it down by distracting from the heart of the story: the three characters and their personal growth. The bees are an obvious metaphor ("single-minded creatures that each worked tirelessly for the whole"), but it works, and Garvin gets the local color right, such as Harry's kiteboarding on the Columbia. While predictable, the story is genuinely touching.