Thursday, July 12, 2018

The History of Bees by Maja Lunde | Review @SimonSchusterCA #savethebees

The History of Bees by Maja Lunde
Published: August 22, 2017
Publisher: Touchstone
Pages: 352
Received: from publisher for honest review
Find Online: Goodreads | Amazon

In the spirit of Station Eleven and Never Let Me Go, this dazzling and ambitious literary debut follows three generations of beekeepers from the past, present, and future, weaving a spellbinding story of their relationship to the bees and to their children and one another against the backdrop of an urgent, global crisis.

England, 1852. William is a biologist and seed merchant, who sets out to build a new type of beehive one that will give both him and his children honor and fame.

United States, 2007. George is a beekeeper fighting an uphill battle against modern farming, but hopes that his son can be their salvation.

China, 2098. Tao hand paints pollen onto the fruit trees now that the bees have long since disappeared. When Tao s young son is taken away by the authorities after a tragic accident, she sets out on a grueling journey to find out what happened to him.

Haunting, illuminating, and deftly written, The History of Bees joins these three very different narratives into one gripping and thought-provoking story that is just as much about the powerful bond between children and parents as it is about our very relationship to nature and humanity."

First thoughts - this cover is gorgeous. If you could only see it in person, the gold lettering and the little gold dots around the page make it feel magical. I am assuming that the gold represents the pollen that the bees help with.

Now, my thoughts after having read it...

Wow! I truly enjoyed the way that story switched back forth between three point of views, which were also told each in a different year. I loved that they were all linked via the bees and in the end there was another wonderful little link as well (no spoiler on that though). 

Each POV has some link to the bees - Tao is in China, set in the near future, where bees do not exist any longer and the people of her country actually hand pollinate the trees for growing their crops. This boggled my mind at first, but actually seemed like such a genius idea of how to keep the crops going so that there were fresh foods to eat. William's narrative is set in the past in England and he works on perfecting the best man made bee hive to encourage bee keeping and harvesting of honey and being able to tame the bees in order to help them to pollinate in certain areas. And lastly is George, who's narrative is set in present day USA, where he is a bee keeper working hard to keep his bees happy and help crops to grow using the bees for pollination, but he soon encounters issues with disappearing bees.

This story feels like it's not far from the reality of our world without bees. I know it's in the news all the time about the bees and doing our part to keep the bees alive and thriving, but after reading the book and seeing what could actually happen to the entire world (not just one country or continent), it is terrifying to know that such a wonderful little creature has a very big impact on us.

Not only do the stories talk about the bees, but each one has a different story dealing with their family. They each have children and it was interesting to see how they all dealt with being parents and cultivating the relationships in their own way. They don't always handle things in the best way, but you can tell that it's mostly done out of love for their children. Some just take a little longer to figure things out. 

I thought that out of all of the stories, that I enjoyed Tao's the most, but now that I think back on the entire book, I feel that all three were needed to show the impact over time and without each of the others, the individual stories would not have been as interesting. I like how it all unravels over time while bouncing back and forth between the narrators.

About the Author:
Maja Lunde is a Norwegian author and screenwriter. Lunde has written ten books for children and young adults. She has also written scripts for Norwegian television, including for the children’s series Barnas supershow (“The Children’s Super Show”), the drama series Hjem (“Home”) and the comedy series Side om Side (“Side by Side”). The History of Bees is her first novel for adults. She lives with her husband and three children in Oslo. -source

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