Book Reviews,  books

Book Review: The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

The Secret Life of Bees follows the journey of Lily Owens, a young girl who is struggling to understand the world around her. The story takes place in 1964 in South Carolina, where Lily’s life has been shaped by her mother’s death when she was only three years old. Living on a peach farm with her harsh and unforgiving father, she has only one friend: Rosaleen, the black servant who raised her after the death of her mother. When racial tensions erupt one day and Rosaleen is arrested and beaten, Lily chooses to flee with her.

As they make their way across the country, they come across a trio of beekeeping sisters who offer them shelter. Here they find safety, but also answers about what happened to Lily’s mother ten years earlier—and why she had died.

The Secret Life of Bees is an emotional read that shows how irrational racism can be by portraying black and white characters with dignity and humanity while also demonstrating how Lily struggles with—and ultimately overcomes—her own racism. If you love women’s fiction, you will love this book. It’s full of heart-warming relationships, secrets kept and revealed, and an important message about racism.

The language is simple yet evocative; it feels like you’re reading something that was written right out of your own memory. It’s easy to fall into this book, but once you do, it won’t let go until it’s finished telling its story. The characters feel like they could be people you know—they’re flawed and imperfect, but they’re also strong and brave. They make mistakes but learn from them; they grow throughout the novel even though they don’t always get what they want.

The Secret Life of Bees is a great choice if you enjoy stories about family secrets or coming-of-age tales where someone learns what it means to be themselves instead of who others want them to be.

This was a pleasing book. I liked the way it dealt with racism and how it showed that everyone is flawed, but also that we can all get past our flaws and be better than we are. The Secret Life of Bees is very well written, and I found myself wanting to read more even when I was reading this book late into the night. The author did an excellent job at drawing you into the story and making you feel like you were right there with Lily, which is a hard thing to do. She also did a good job at showing how racism can affect people in different ways and that it’s not just black people who are affected by racism—white people can be too!

It is an emotional read, but it’s also very hopeful. I would recommend it to anyone who likes reading about family relationships or coming-of-age stories.

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