Eager, Lindsay. Hour of the Bees
March 8th 2016 by Candlewick Press
E ARC from Netgalley.com
Carol is not happy that her family is spending the summer out at her grandfather's hot and dusty sheep ranch in New Mexico, especially with junior high on the horizon. She's never met her grandfather, but he is sliding into dementia, and it's time to clean out the house and sell it before putting him into a retirement facility. Carol's father says he's always been ornery, which is one of the reasons that her father left and didn't return. Serge is gruff, certainly, and struggling with a variety of health problems, but he and Carol (whom he calls Carolina) get along fairly well. Serge starts telling her a story about a magical tree in a Mexican village. This tree kept all of the citizens of the town from being injured and even from dying. It was in this village that he met Rosa, Carol's grandmother, but Rosa always wanted to leave and see the world. Eventually, Serge makes her a bracelet out of the bark of the tree, and this keeps her safe until the residents try to exploit the gift of the tree. Eventually, the ranch is sold and Serge moves into a facility, where his health continues to deteriorate. Since Carol hasn't heard the ending of the story, she visits her grandfather and tries to connect him to the place he loves best before the end.
Strengths: This was intriguing and well-written, and I appreciated that both parents were alive and involved. The setting was interesting, since I haven't spent much time in the Southwest. The multicultural aspect was appealing, and I'm a sucker for books about grandparents.
Weaknesses: What's with the mystical stories with Mexican grandparents? The Lightning Queen, Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer, and I'm sure there have been others. It's starting to feel like a thing. I'm not Hispanic, so I'm not sure how this will go over with people who are.
What I really think: I was thinking I would buy this up to the very end, and then lots and lots of bad choices were made. Since this has a wishy washy cover as well, I will probably pass, although I enjoyed reading it myself.