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Little Bee

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3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  150,502 ratings  ·  17,200 reviews
This is the story of two women. Their lives collide one fateful day, and one of them has to make a terrible choice, the kind of choice we hope you never have to face. Two years later, they meet again - the story starts there ...
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published February 10th 2009 by Bond Street Books (first published January 1st 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Michelle
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
Christopher
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
...more
Eleanor
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
...more
Tina
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Laurie
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
...more
Becky
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,
...more
smetchie
Jun 23, 2010 smetchie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
...more
Laurel
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
...more
karen
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.
Aimee
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
...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
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
...more
Sara
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
...more
Michelle
Aug 27, 2008 Michelle rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
...more
dyh_nyc
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
...more
Petra Xtra Crunchy
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
...more
Barb
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
...more
Laura
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
alysa
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
Lucy
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
...more
Susan
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
...more
colleen the contrarian  ± (... never stop fighting) ±
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
...more
Regina
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
...more
Carmen
Feb 27, 2014 Carmen rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: I honestly don't know
Recommended to Carmen by: Caroline
Shelves: fiction
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
...more
Dawn
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
...more
Caroline
***ALL SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW ARE HIDDEN***

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
...more
Sheila
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
Toni
May 24, 2010 Toni rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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.
Connie
“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
...more
Johnny
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lisa Vegan
5 stars for the humor and for Little Bee’s voice for the first ½-2/3 of the book, and an engrossing and quick read throughout the entire book
4 stars for Sarah’s voice through most of the book
3 ½ stars for the overall story, with the first parts much stronger than the last parts
3 stars for the stories of Sarah and Andrew and Charlie/Batman and Lawrence
2 stars for how this lovely little book goes downhill fast, not as downhill as I’d feared (from what a couple others I know said) but I wished it h
...more
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Lawrence and Charlie 4 26 Oct 21, 2014 06:43PM  
Little Bee - ending 39 480 Oct 21, 2014 06:42PM  
We All Love Books: What are ur thoughts on this book??? 3 12 Sep 11, 2014 07:02PM  
Sarah or Andrew? 14 191 Jul 07, 2014 06:08PM  
Readers of Color 3 70 Mar 14, 2014 02:55PM  
Mom's Book Banter: **Little Bee Proverb Contest** 5 8 Feb 27, 2014 12:44PM  
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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...
Gold Incendiary Chris Cleave Ebook Boxed Set: Little Bee, Incendiary, Gold Something to Read About: A Book Club Sampler from Simon & Schuster Gold: Sneak Preview with Bonus Essays

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“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'.” 308 likes
“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.” 303 likes
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