Friday, April 3, 2009

The Secret Life of Bees - Sue Monk Kidd

This book is reviewed by Melissa Paul, a fantastic multi-tasking mother of two rambunctious boys who loves to escape into a great book. She is a published author and all of us bow down to her all-around awesomeness.

Summary: Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily's fierce-hearted black "stand-in mother," Rosaleen insults three of the deepest racists in town Lily decides to spring them both free. They escape to Tiburon, South Carolina--a town that holds the secret to her mother's past. Taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters, Lily is introduced to their mesmerizing world of bees and honey, and the Black Madonna. This is a remarkable novel about divine female power, a story that women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.

My review: Sue Monk Kidd weaves a fantastic metaphor throughout Lily’s story with several layers of complexity surrounding a central theme of motherhood – the queen bee in relation to the hive; the imagery of the Black Madonna; the black women. She also unflinchingly includes an ugly face of racism in 1964 South Carolina, but on the level of an adolescent white girl’s experience coupled with her naïve (considering the time and place) ability to see beyond skin color.

After running away from an unkind and unloving father, Lily is desperate to discover some of her mother, who died when she was only four years old. Miraculously, Lily and Rosaleen, the picker her dad plucked from his peach orchards to be a nanny to her, run away from home, almost completely by accident, and wind up in the pink house of the bee-keeping August, her musical sister June and the sweet and eccentric May. At the pink house, Lily discovers her own heart and, as August tells her, “a mother inside yourself.”

Although a confrontation with Lily’s father goes a bit too smoothly, the story is beautifully written and perfectly captures the hole in Lily’s heart occupied by her mother’s absence. It will make you want to hug your kids and cover them with kisses and call up your own mom and tell her that you love her.

My rating: 5 Stars- share it with a woman you love.

Sum it all up in one phrase: a southern story about mother love lost and found. Make sure you have some honey on hand when you read it.


MindySue said...

I thought this book was AMAZING! It had a kind of texture to it--or atmosphere--where you were reading the book and could close your eyes and hear the bees buzzing and smell the honey. It completely transported me to the Deep South. 5 BIG FAT gold stars from me as well!!!

Heather said...

Nice review. I also enjoyed this novel. I haven't read it for years but after this review I'll need to make time to revisit it.

Heather said...

After watching this movie tonight I feel that I must post a recommendation for it here as well. It closely follows the novel, as well as gives you an insight to the father-daughter relationship and why the confrontation went as smoothly as it did. It also reminded me of all the reasons I loved this novel.


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