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The Other Hand

3.68  ·  Rating Details  ·  180,920 Ratings  ·  18,617 Reviews
'The Other Hand' is a novel by Chris Cleave, the author of 'Incendiary'. Deeply moving, yet light in touch, it explores the nature of loss, hope, love and identity with atrocity as its backdrop.
Paperback, 563 pages
Published July 1st 2011 by Hodder & Stoughton (first published August 7th 2008)
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Cheryl Hurst
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Shelley I felt that Little Bee gave up in the end, and let herself be caught rather than risk Sarah and "Batman". Perhaps this is out of guilt of what…moreI felt that Little Bee gave up in the end, and let herself be caught rather than risk Sarah and "Batman". Perhaps this is out of guilt of what happened with Andrew, or simply because she is tired of always running and being afraid. I was very disappointed in the end and in their - in my view, stupid - decision to return to the beach. (less)
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Community Reviews

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Mar 24, 2009 Michelle rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like Little Bee. The reviews for it are exceptional. Book List starred it, Amazon named it among their “February Best of the Month” picks, O Magazine fondly mentions it. I mean come on, Library Journal labels it “the next Kite Runner” for goodness sakes! I couldn’t wait to be swept away. And I was… for the first couple of chapters. Little Bee’s character came on very strong and distinct. I felt like I could pick her out of a crowd and guess what she was thinking. But I gradually star ...more
I would have ranked this higher, were it not for the ridiculous hype on the jacket and the annoying Editor's letter at the front; all of which tell me that is book will change my life, that it's a masterpiece. This book stands on its own without needing it.

I also pretty fundamentally disagreed with the assertion that "it's hilarious - although the scene on the African beach is horrific".

This is not a 'hilarious' book - it is one of the most challenging reads I have had this year. It tells the de
Feb 05, 2011 Eleanor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Chris Cleave's ability to float effortlessly between two distinct ethnic voices (Little Bee, a refugee from Nigeria, and Sarah, a young widow in England) as their stories spin out and around and through one another was nearly mystical.

Years before this book opens, the lives of Sarah and Little Bee violently collided on a beach in Nigeria, and when sheer determination and courage bring them back together again every secret of their hearts is unfolded before our eyes.

I found myself reading and rer
Mar 29, 2010 Tina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 09, 2010 Laurie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, fiction
I generally pass on books written by a man in the voice of a woman. And a white man writing in a black woman's voice? No, thanks. But this book gives nothing away up front, and I was hooked before I could worry much about the writer's intentions.

The chapters alternate between Little Bee, a Nigerian refugee, and Sarah, an English suburban mom. They are drawn together under extraordinary circumstances, and I found myself regularly surprised by the turn of events. I didn't know how things were goin
I had hoped this would be a really incredible gut-wrencher, heartbreaker of a book, but I feel like it didn't really live up to the potential it had. Like it was a little scattered and unfocused, so instead of showing us exactly what we should see, we are instead shown the things that lie around the thing that we should see, and we have to put the picture of the thing together on our own.

If this book had just been about the relationship of two women who share a horrible event in their history,
Jun 23, 2010 smetchie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to smetchie by: Jamie Chamberlin
Have you ever met someone you idolized? (An artist or singer, maybe. Someone super talented or brilliant or famous.) But then when you met them in person you found out they were lame? What a rip-off!

That’s sort of how I feel about this book.

It's the story of two women and how their lives converge. Little Bee is a 16-year-old Nigerian refugee who has seen her entire village and family brutally murdered. Sarah is a 30-something suburbanite juggling career and family. The two women met once on a be
Feb 11, 2009 karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: distant-lands
i cant say anything about the plot of this book because the dust jacket pleads with me not to and i am nothing if not obedient. (but you can read plot points in all the other reviews by rebels) i will say i loved it enough to order in and set aside his earlier book, which had never called out to me before. and this is my favorite cover ... ever.
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Feb 22, 2009 Jeanette "Astute Crabbist" rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jeanette by: TKE
This book WILL:

1)Make you laugh hysterically.
2)Disturb you mightily.
3)Make you think A LOT.
4)Make you examine your conscience,(provided you actually have one to examine). Especially with regard to immigration issues and the tendency of wealthier nations to throw money at every problem in the hopes of making it go away.

This book MAY:

1)Horrify you.
2)Make you angry.
3)Shock you.
4)Make you cry.

The basic story involves the relationship that develops between Little Bee, a Nigerian refugee girl, and Sa
May 20, 2014 Laurel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
As other reviewers have also noted, I think I would have enjoyed this book much more were it not for the smugness of the book's own cover jacket and editor's note. A book that is truly a masterpiece doesn't need quite so much unnecessary self-praise to sell itself. It built the story up too much for me.

I also would disagree with the back cover's claim that the book is "often hilarious." This book is anything but hilarious. While there are indeed moments of light reprieve through Little Bee's wit
Sep 21, 2009 Aimee rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Isn't it funny when novels from their origin countries are marketed in the ol' U. S. of A. under a different title because it will 'sell better'. I can just imagine the pain the author must feel when they find that the title that represents their book seems as if it's just not good enough for the American public. I can think of a few such occasions where such a thing has happened:

*Northern Lights, by Philip Pullman = The Golden Compass.

*Harry Potter and Philosopher's Stone, by J.K. Rowling = Har
Petra X
May 05, 2015 Petra X rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is a book you should buy and not borrow from the library. Just to reward the author for such an amazing and exhilarating experience. Its as much like watching a film as it reading a book because the writing is so extraordinarily good (and clever). And this review is so dry because the author wants nothing of his book revealed. "The magic is in the way the story unfolds," he's said, and yes, it is.

And I am sooo going to enjoy hand-selling people this book in my shop. I will have so many hap
Mar 19, 2009 Sara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The first three pages of this book deserve 5 stars. Absolutely. Little Bee is an excellent narrator and they were positively engaging/hilarious/touching/curiosity-inducing.

After that, the story gets pretty heavy. That's not a problem, but it struck me as a uncomfortably incongruous with the cutesy publisher's note on the front book jacket flap. It's got a coy little tone with some stylized all-caps, teasing about spoiling for the story for us, the readers, who are about to go on a magnificent ad
Aug 27, 2008 Michelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
After reading Incendiary a while back I have been eagerly awaiting the publication of this book. It did not disappoint me. I started reading on Saturday morning and from page one I was totally hooked. I found it really difficult to put down, even when cooking. So many books around in my local book shop are "Summer Reads" so this was a refreshing change.

It's the story of Little Bee, a teenage refugee from Nigeria, and Sarah O'Rourke a British magazine editor. Horror makes their worlds collide and
Mar 16, 2009 dyh_nyc rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I loved the first half of the book, but had a hard time getting through the second half. Little Bee, a Nigerian girl who escaped her country after a series of horrific killings, ends up in England. The story follows Little Bee from her time in Nigeria to her difficult transition to England; as well as a British couple, whose lives become deeply entwined with Little Bee. A lot of the effectiveness of the book comes from the plot twists, so I'll leave the plot description at that.

In my opinion, t
A slice of literary brilliance sprinkled with what I can only think of as literary cow pies.

I can't figure out why Chris Cleave created so many beautifully written passages and then with the same keystrokes inserted such a horribly rendered and completely unnecessary character as Laurence into his story. I felt this juxtaposition of brilliantly imagined and horribly depicted (and or completely unbelievable) wove its way through the entire novel. I wonder if some of what I thought was ridiculous
I didn't really enjoy this book. The vague synopsis on the back of the book built the story up to be something that it eventually did not live up to.

On it's back cover, Cleave promises the reader that the way his story unfolds will be "magic" and that you will want to tell all your friends about it. While he is partially right in the fact that I do want to share my thoughts with all my [goodreads] friends, it is not for the reason that he thinks I should.

The way that Cleave crafted his story f
May 28, 2009 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Chris Cleave is nothing if not ambitious. In Little Bee, he not only takes on the issues of immigration, globalization, imperialism, and personal responsibility, but does so in the voices of two unforgettable women, one a solidly middle-class English fashion magazine editor, the other a 16-year-old Nigerian refugee. As you might imagine, Cleave doesn't deal with these issues in a pat way, nor does he allow his readers to do so. And although parts of this book are very, very difficult to read -- ...more
Oct 01, 2010 alysa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
UGH, What can I say. I hated this book! If you want to read about the most depressing events of a human life than this one is for you. What an emotional downer this book is. It does nothing but show you the evil that can be present in human nature from extramarital affairs all the way to murder. The overall gist of the story is about a Nigerian refugee. Yes, it is a story that should be told, but I would rather read about just the facts in a news article than something I am reading for "pleasure ...more
Apr 28, 2015 Carmen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: I honestly don't know
Recommended to Carmen by: Caroline
This book made me so anxious and upset I found myself yelling at the characters. Especially Lawrence. "Lawrence!" I screamed, banging the book down on the table. "You little sh*t! If you hurt her I swear! I swear, Lawrence!" Luckily, I was alone at this time. Otherwise, people might have been concerned.

LITTLE BEE is not a relaxing read. Like so many books I have been reading lately, this book is about TRUTH. And the truth is painful. The truth is anxiety inducing. The truth is that life is not a
“I was carrying two cargoes. Yes, one of them was horror, but the other one was hope.”

The writing of Chris Cleave is lyrical, descriptive, humorous and memorable. It flows in the narrative and carries the reader easily through the story. That moves this from a 3 star to a 4 star book for me. The story of Little Bee is a harsh and sad one. Her life goes from simple innocence, happy enough, to a horrible nightmare all in the blink of an eye. This makes her much wiser than her few years and much
colleen the fabulous fabulaphile
I'm sort of bouncing back and forth between 2 and 3. I need time to think about it.


I've decided to give it 2 1/2, because it was pretty good - and that's how I'm rating it. Not in the sense that "I liked it" as much as in the sense that "It was pretty good".

Overall, I liked the chapters that were narrated by Little Bee better than the chapters narrated by Sarah. Little Bee seemed more real - her chapters had humor and pathos - were touching and heart-breaking and funny.

I liked when she descri
This is a book that compelled me to keep reading and had me thinking about it when I wasn't reading it. So that is why I gave it 3 stars -- books that can do that are worth it.

My main issue is that the characters seemed to be not real, but metaphors for problems in society and I feel like the end message was that the problems facing refugees and aslyees are bigger than the average citizen and it isn't worth it to get involved -- we cannot change the country dynamics and the bureacracy challenge
Jun 15, 2009 Lucy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm still not really sure what I think of this book. The story is gripping and as I was reading it I felt that it had a lot of potential. However, by the last page I was still waiting for this potential to be fulfilled.
I found the characters rather hard to empathise with, which is perhaps the reason that I wasn't as moved by the story as I thought I should be. Overall, I think this book dealt with the issue of refuges in modern-day England effectively and sensitively, but that's as far as it goe
Mar 07, 2011 Dawn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: other, read-in-2011
This isn't something I would normally pick up. In the past, I've stuck pretty close to my safe genres; fantasy, historical fiction, suspense/horror. I don't usually pick up the popular "it" books, or they "issues" books, so to speak. But I've been trying to branch out, and aside from that, I was sort of "forced" to read this one. But I'm glad for that! As it turned out, I actually enjoyed it.

I had never heard of this book before I was told I was being forced to read it, and I had no idea it was
Dec 21, 2008 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book as the back cover blurb is particularly vague. I was pleasantly surprised to discover a book that dealt with some really significant issues, such as refugees, in such an approachable and readable way.

The central characters were interesting and well written and despite the heavy themes, the book was quite humorous at times. I liked that the connections between characters were complex - not just simple stereotypes of 'supportive best friend' 'emotionally

What do a sixteen-year-old Nigerian refugee and a 32-year-old middle-class British mother have in common? Little Bee is an examination of deep loss, focusing most intensely on how these two characters are broken in different ways as the result of a single terrifying incident. The story is narrated in these dual voices, the distinction between them helped along very nicely by author Chris Cleave’s careful attention to Nigerian idioms when Little Bee is
Feb 19, 2010 Sheila rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks
Do not be put off by the publishers blurb on this one. I stumbled across it on WHSmith ebooks web site when looking for reads to take away with me and was intrigued. I started it last night and couldn't put it down, It is rivetting. Horrific in part but giving a poingant portrayal of grief in another. There's a mix of humour in a dark tale, a mix of circumstance and inevitability, a mix of cultures and of life experiences and of age, a mix of people in the wrong place at the wrong time - be it a ...more
May 24, 2010 Toni rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lynne & Chrissie
Early on Little Bee says, "Sad words are just another beauty. A sad story means, the storyteller is alive."

Little Bee is a very sad story, but she has such beauty that her story is well worth reading.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Chris Cleave was born in London and spent his early years in Cameroon. He studied experimental psychology at Balliol College, Oxford. His debut novel, INCENDIARY, won a 2006 Somerset Maugham Award, was shortlisted for the 2006 Commonwealth Writers' Prize, and is now a feature film. His second novel, LITTLE BEE, is a New York Times #1 bestseller with over 2 million copies in print. GOLD is his thir ...more
More about Chris Cleave...

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“On the girl's brown legs there were many small white scars. I was thinking, Do those scars cover the whole of you, like the stars and the moons on your dress? I thought that would be pretty too, and I ask you right here please to agree with me that a scar is never ugly. That is what the scar makers want us to think. But you and I, we must make an agreement to defy them. We must see all scars as beauty. Okay? This will be our secret. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived.” 359 likes
“We must see all scars as beauty. Okay? This will be our secret. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, 'I survived'.” 342 likes
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