Annalisa's Reviews > Little Bee

Little Bee by Chris Cleave
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Oct 26, 10

bookshelves: book-club, literary
Recommended to Annalisa by: Janessa
Read from October 08 to 18, 2010

Cleave wrote this book to expose conditions in British detention centers, and he got me with the detention scenes, made me feel the indignation for change he was going for. I read so much of Cleave in Andrew's character, so much so that I pictured him as Andrew, the journalist overwhelmed with wanting to tell this story. Even though the detention center is such a small facet of the book, it works. Cleave can write and when he wants impact, he gives us impact.

I enjoyed Little Bee. The scenes from her POV are often powerful and moving. I loved her voice and her thoughts and her struggles. She gave me a lot think about and a new world to explore. I felt Africa when reading her chapters. She was someone I could root for, someone whose story I wanted to follow.

But I didn't like Sarah. I don't even think I got Sarah. On the one hand, she's a shallow editor for a fashion magazine who doesn't care about anyone but herself (and when it counts, her son). She doesn't want to be troubled with other people's problems or anything serious. But on the other hand, she wants to be a journalist that makes a difference. She wants to change the world and be the person who would make the tough decisions, sacrificing herself enough, to save the world. These two halves are too much at odd and never meld into a viable person. Sarah was not a conflicted person, but a bundle of contractions.

The scene where you finally discover what happens on that Nigerian beach was a disappointment for me. It wasn't as gruesome as I expected. I wasn't sure why, because it is gruesome, but I didn't believe it. And then I realized it wasn't what happened to Bee or her sister that I didn't believe. It was Sarah and her reactions. Instead of saving Little Bee's story for me, she ruined it. Had her story been as strong as Little Bee's, I may have loved the story, but she not only ruined the beginning, she ruined the ending too.

As a sidenote, I'm glad I didn't bother reading the foreword. I'm not a fan of pretentious declarations of importance. Read the book, not its self praise.
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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Lisa Vegan Now that I've read the book, Great line: "Sarah was not a conflicted person, but a bundle of contractions." And I agree about what happens on the beach and about Sarah's reactions too.


Annalisa Lisa, thanks. I loved your review. I was just reading it. I agreed with everything, especially the language development of a toddler. It sounded all wrong to me too.


Lisa Vegan Annalisa wrote: "Lisa, thanks. I loved your review. I was just reading it. I agreed with everything, especially the language development of a toddler. It sounded all wrong to me too."

Yes, it's all too bad. The humor in the first half of the book was wonderful, and the story is important.


Annalisa I agree that the story is important. It's why I gave it 4 stars.


Lisa Vegan Annalisa wrote: "I agree that the story is important. It's why I gave it 4 stars."

And I almost did, for that reason and for the humor despite the tragedy. But I wish it had lived up to itself, in my opinion of course.


Annalisa True. The ending ruined the book a little for me.


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