'The Secret Life of Bees' by Sue Monk Kidd - Book Review

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The Bottom Line

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd centers on Lily's search for a connection to her mother who died in a tragic accident when she was a toddler. Taking place in South Carolina in the 1960s, The Secret Life of Bees explores race, love and the idea of home in turbulent times. It is a lovingly written drama that keeps the pages turning. I highly recommend The Secret Life of Bees, especially to women and women's book clubs.

Pros

  • The Secret Life of Bees has loveable, well written characters
  • A sweet, Southern voice
  • Compelling story full of mystery, longing and love
  • Easy to read--not too long

Cons

  • Not entirely realistic (which isn't necessarily a con for everyone)

Description

  • A motherless child searching for the truth about her mother and herself
  • A black woman and white girl united in the South in the 1960s
  • Black Madonna Honey - the women who make it, the bees that produce it, and the spiritual figure

Guide Review - The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd - Book Review

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd is the story of Lily, a teenager on a peach farm in South Carolina whose mother died when she was young and whose father is abusive. In practice, Lily is raised by the black housekeeper, Rosaleen. When Rosaleen gets in a fight with some white men while she is going into town to register to vote, Lily and Rosaleen decide to take off together.

They end up in a unique community that is the perfect place for Lily to look for her mother and learn to love herself.

The descriptions, characters and plot mix together to make The Secret Life of Bees a honey-sweet reading treat. Southern summer nights come alive in this novel, and you can almost taste the Coke with peanuts floating in it.

The characters are well developed and interesting. There is enough suspense to keep The Secret Life of Bees from becoming too introspective as well.

Race issues run through the novel. Lily's relationships with black women and men and the town's willingness to ignore them are not entirely realistic; however, The Secret Life of Bees does a good job of conveying the underlying tension and inequalities that existed in the South in the 1960s.

The Secret Life of Bees also explores feminine spirituality. While this was not the strongest thread in the book, it worked well enough with the characters and events not to be a serious weakness.

I recommend The Secret Life of Bees. It is a wonderful debut novel that makes a quick and thoughtful weekend read.