Title: The Secret Life of Bees
Author: Sue Monk Kidd
Published: 2001 by Penguin
My Rating: 4.5 stars
Tags: Realistic | Historical | Girls
Includes: Profanity, Brief Violence, Sensuality, Racism
First Lines: At night I would lie in bed and watch the show, how bees squeezed through the cracks of my bedroom wall and flew circles around the room, making that propeller sound, a high-pitched zzzzzz that hummed along my skin.
Lily Owens, a 14 year old budding writer, lives with her abusive father, T-Ray, and their housekeeper, Rosaleen. Taking place in 1964, racism is very popular in her town, and soon Rosaleen finds herself in jail. Lily, in a desperate attempt to run away from T-Ray, is able to sneak Rosaleen out, and flee to Tiburon, S.C. But Lily is not only running from the present, but also the past and her dreadful memories of killing her mother when she was just four years old. Now, Lily is eager to search the truths for the real reason her mom left their family while she was still alive, and learns life-long lessons along the way. Lily and Rosaleen reside in a house where three black sisters live, August, May, and June Boatwright. Lily is put to work as a beekeeper with August, where she also befriends a boy her age named Zach. The story slowly unravels from there, revealing secrets of Lily's mother's past, changing Lily's life one day at a time.
From Page 277
I plucked leaves off the elephant ear plants and fanned my face, sat with my bare feet submerged in the trickling water, felt breezes lift off the river surface and sweep over me, and still everything about me was stunned and stupefied by the heat, everything except my heart. It sat like an ice sculpture in the center of my chest. Nothing could touch it.
First off, the reason I started reading this book was because of my reading class at school. We're on the topic of racism in the '60's, so my teacher wanted us to read this. When I first started it, I wasn't that into it. I've never favored historical-fiction books that much, so I was a little sketchy about reading it. However, after a few chapters in, I was hooked. Sue Monk Kidd's writing is unbelievable! I actually felt like I was looking through Lily's eyes, and each character was described beautifully.
Another thing that I liked from this book, was all the female power! Besides a few male roles, the book was basically centered around women, especially Lily and the "calendar sisters". There are some thought-provoking lessons that Lily and myself learned from the inspiring August Boatwright.
It's also interesting that Sue Kidd included a quote at the start of each chapter relating to bees. Bees serve as a humongous symbol throughout the book, which was fitting for the title. There was a minor thing in the book that I didn't like, though: the profanity. It wasn't like some books, that drop the f-bomb on every other page, but there were many curse words throughout the book.
But despite that, I deeply enjoyed this book and would read it again. Overall, the novel started out slow, but ended strong. I recommend it to females, especially ones that have lost a dear mother or need to be filled with a little hope.