Friday, July 11, 2008

The Honey Thief, by Elizabeth Graver

Today's book is one I purchased after reading the jacket description. I have a thing for coming-of-age stories, and the blurb caught my attention.

The Honey Thief presents a coming of age story of a girl, Eva, on the cusp of adolescence who has recently moved to the New York countryside from the city, in a desperate attempt by her widowed mother to escape a troubling past. The immediate impetus for the move is Eva's series of compulsive thefts. Her mother, Miriam, moves Eva out of the city in an attempt to stop the behavior. For Miriam Eva stealing is much more troubling than just adolescent misbehavior. Why that is is related throughout the book in a series of flashbacks, that tell the story of Eva's parents early relationship and their marriage, before Eva's father's death, several years after her birth. Yet, the country does little to help Eva, and, if anything, her problems worsen. The one mitigating factor for Eva seems to be her introduction to a local beekeeper, who invites Eva to watch and learn about his bees. But through a series of chance encounters the one stable and satisfying part of Eva's life will be endangered too. Eva's story is an interesting one, and the relationship she develops with Burl the beekeeper is an interesting and nuanced one that Graver develops with skill. Ultimately I found the end of this book much less satisfying than the first 3/4 of the text. The ending was a surprise, but unsatisfying. It's difficult to explain why without giving away the ending, but suffice it to say that I found there to be little resolution for the most sympathetic and interesting character in the book. But up until the end the rest of the text was engaging, full of complicated characters and problems. Eva's family is one in which all members are burdened, both by the past and by illness, and much of Eva and Miriam's tell is really an attempt to deal with these problems. Graver is a good writer, I simply wished she'd handled the ending with more complexity.

Elizabeth Graver, The Honey Thief, (Harvest, 2000) ISBN: 0156013908


Bonnie Jacobs said...

The move from city to country is important to the story. And since both locations are in New York state, this one is a good fit with Book Around the States. Thanks.

R-Lo said...


Given the tendency of many bloggers to go all out in favor of or against a work, I liked your nice, complex review.
Cheers from another Book around the States participant!