Review: The Music of Bees by Eileen Garvin

The Music of Bees Book Cover The Music of Bees
Eileen Garvin
General Fiction
April 1, 2021
April 21 - May 1, 2023

A heartwarming debut novel for readers of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, following three lonely strangers in a rural Oregon town, each working through grief and life's curveballs, who 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.


The Music of Bees is a beautiful story of three unlikely people coming together and forming a found-family. Alice, a 50-something widow, who just wants to live her life and raise her bees. Jake, an 18 year old boy who’s recent status as paraplegic has put an end of his ever getting out from under his horrible father’s thumb. And Harry, whose severe anxiety has resulted in some bad life choices and trouble finding and keeping a job.

When these three come together, they unwittingly help each other, while finding themselves. 

This book started out kind of boring, not gonna lie. I considered quitting early on because I just wasn’t feeling it. I stuck with it though, and I’m glad I did, because before long I was hooked. Watching these three characters come together and grow was wonderful. They’re a very unlikely trio, but somehow, together they worked. 

When Alice puts out an ad looking for help with her beekeeping, Jake jumps at the chance to leave his parents home. Harry meanwhile, is terrified of bees, but he applies for the job because he loves doing the handyman work required to help Alice out. 

They bond over the bees and form a beautiful friendship. When big agro threatens the local pollinators, they band together to stand up for the bees.

I love the unlikely relationship between the three and the awareness of pesticides and their affect on our pollinators, especially the bees. 

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