Jessica Leatham's Reviews > The Secret Life of Bees

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
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Jun 14, 10

bookshelves: english-420

This story is about Lily Owen, a fourteen-year-old trying to find her own identity. Her only real friend is Rosaline, an independent African American woman who has helped raise Lily, and the bees that sometimes swarm in her room. Lily’s mother died when she was very young, and the story becomes Lily’s personal quest to not only discover the truth surrounding her mother’s death but also a quest to come to terms with the truths she discovers. When Rosaline gets in trouble with the law, Lily busts her out of prison and the two of them run away. Lily runs away from her somewhat abusive father towards the only real clue she has concerning her mother’s past. It is a picture of a black Madonna—on the back is written “Tiburon, South Carolina.” Her journey leads her to the Boatwright sisters, August, June, and May. These sisters help her come to terms with who she is. I enjoyed this story. It seemed to me that it was a powerful coming to age story, and I felt that in addition to dealing with some of heavier issues (dealing with the death of a loved one, handling the pressures of racial differences, etc.) it also effectively handled some of the basics of growing up (discovering identity, changing physically and emotionally, etc.). This book presents a lot of dualities (the nature of bees and honey, black vs. white, etc.). At different moments these dualities allow Lily to question some of the things she knows and feels. Because the protagonist is able to challenges some of her beliefs, the reader is also challenged to do so. This book has been received by both young adults and adults alike. I personally feel that it most likely would be best received by women, specifically teenagers and young adults (around ages 14-24 or so).
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