Tuesday, May 12, 2020

65. The Secret Life of Bees

The Secret Life of Bees. Sue Monk Kidd. 2003. 302 pages. [Source: Library] [historical fiction; dysfunctional families; adult novels with young protagonists]

First sentence: 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.

Premise/plot: Lily Owens goes on a quest in The Secret Life of Bees. Choosing to run away from an abusive home, she sets out to find out more about her dead mother. She has just a few clues--one clue is a picture of a black madonna or Mother Mary. This has the name of a town and state. Surely this means her mother once spent time there, right?! Knowing very little about her journey ahead, but knowing what would happen if she stays--she sets out...but not alone. Rosaleen is the family's black maid. She's taken care of Lily forever and ever. But now it may be Lily's turn to take care of her--even if it means breaking the law. These two have a journey ahead of them. Will they find what they are looking for?

My thoughts: This one is set in South Carolina in 1964. It is definitely character-driven. It is very much a period piece, capturing a specific time, place, and culture. Much of the novel is INTENSE in that it deals with realistic situations that NO ONE ever really feels comfortable with. One such event is what happened with Lily's mother... Another is how her father has raised her...or not raised her as the case may be. If you find it difficult to read about physical, verbal, mental, emotional abuse....this one may be tough going for you. Not that it might not be worth it in the end...it might be. You might be thankful to go on Lily's journey with her. Yet another situation is the wide-spread racism. Rosaleen is determined to register to vote no matter what...but it's risky to be so determined to change the world. I could keep going on and on...there is really nothing "easy" and "comfortable" about this one...

I am glad I finally read it. I've been meaning to read it forever. But I can't say that I loved, loved, loved it. I found elements of it to be strange and bizarre. (For example, the scene where they're eating cake in a communion like fashion and talking about eating the body of Mary.) There were just a few things that were a little off for me to be able to wholeheartedly love it. That being said, I don't have a problem with those readers that do love it. 

© 2020 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

1 comment:

Lark said...

I've hesitated to read this one because I'm not sure it's a book I would love. Have you read any of Kidd's other books?