Tuesday, 18 February 2014

The Secret Life of Bees

Imaged sourced from here
I am honestly not sure where I am going to settle with this book. I am hoping writing this organises my thoughts about it a little more.

This is the story of Lily, a white, 13 year old girl in 1964 South Carolina. She is lonely and abused by her father, both physically and emotionally. One day she accompanies her housekeeper into town, who is going to register to vote for the very first time, and things happen that lead to her and Rosaleen running away from home.

They end up staying with an incredibly interesting household of sisters in a town 2 hours away who keep bees and have very different rituals and habits. They have been lead here by a card Lily found in her mother's things. They are pretty much adopted by the sisters and all their friends as well. The underlying social problem here is they are all people of colour, and Lily is not, in a southern state during the civil rights movement. Not that any of them have a problem with this, but it lingers in the book.

I have a few issues with the book. One, is I cannot fathom how much Lily lies to the sisters. I find August, May and even June likable, fascinating and incredibly generous people. And they let Lily and Rosaleen stay in their house, no questions asked, not knowing who they are for several months. And anytime something about the past comes up, Lily lies. I can't stand it. But I don't like lying much. I just want to shake the girl and point out everything the sisters have given her, at considerable personal risk, and yet, she won't even tell them her last name.

The other thing is while the sister's spiritualism and religion is interesting, and I was interested in knowing the stories, I got a little over it. I mean, as in I got it. I got what they were trying to say. I didn't need it all spelt out to me in odd honey smearings. Or just spelt out to me.

But lastly, I just felt ill during the second half of the book. Mainly as I knew what the narrative climax was going to have to be, I was terrified it was going to go the way I didn't want it to go. I guess that is a credit to the book really. I was that worried about the characters, even the slightly sociopathic 13 year old liar child, I felt ill.

I read it as part of a team challenge, I had to read a chick lit book. It was more than just chick lit though, which is why I am glad I read it instead of some of my other options. But if this sounds like your kind of book, and you like a spiritualism/self discovery aspect to your novels, then you'll probably like it more than me. And you should read it.

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