Wednesday 11 March 2015

The Secret Life Of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd // a review

I'm really not doing well with my 2015 book review challenge, but I'm soldiering on regardless. Today I'm reviewing The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd - under the category of a book that made you cry. 

I first read this book when I was in about year eight, when a teacher recommended it to me. I instantly fell in love with the characters and the world into which I was immersed. Set in South Carolina in the 1960s, it is a Bildungsroman (which is a fancy word for coming of age novel that I happen to think is just brilliant) which documents the story of Lily Owens, a loveable 14 year old girl, and the people in her life.

Due to the time and the place in which the novel is set, the novel is dominated by race: Lily and her father, T-Ray, are white, but the majority of the main characters are black. We see the mental and physical abuse that Lily endures at the hands of her father, and after a wild and interesting series of events she leaves home, taking their African-American maid with her. Lily and Rosaleen travel to the house of the Boatwright sisters, where Lily learns all about bee-keeping and a lot about herself in the process.

As always, no spoilers - but this book is one I recommend to everyone. I even have a bee tattoo which stems from my love of this book. It's charged with emotion, heavy with description; you are completely drawn in to the heat of South Carolina, the sound of the bees, the love the characters feel for each other. The themes of the book are so strong and so important that it's hard not to feel every emotion; the author writes so beautifully that everything becomes real.

The book is as much a story about the civil rights movement as it is about Lily's journey to discovering and accepting who she is; the reality of the novel runs alongside the beauty of Lily's imagination and the striking nature of the friendships she develops as she grows into the strong character she is at the end of the book. I would recommend this to ANYONE, but teenage girls in particular. I just bloody love it. Literally just 10/10.

There is a film version too, with Dakota Fanning in - I adore her, and it's actually a really good film adaptation, and I don't say that lightly!

Have you read The Secret Life Of Bees? If you have any recommendations, let me know because I'm always looking for new books to read!

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  1. Another one to add to my list.. Even though it sounds like I'll be a blubbering wreck reading it!!! xx

  2. I feel like I might have to give this book a read! I love reading books set around that time period and I haven't read any like it for a while :)

    Lauren :) x

  3. As I'm starting a longer commute to work as of next week, I wanted to get some new books to read and this seems right up my street! Thanks for recommending!