kingshearte's Reviews > The Secret Life of Bees

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
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's review
Apr 06, 2011

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bookshelves: 2011, fiction
Read from April 06 to 08, 2011

I must admit to not having had high hopes for this book when I started it. On the surface, it's a very predictable overcoming adversity and finding oneself coming-of-age sort of story. And ultimately, that's exactly what it is, but it does have a few aspects that keep it from being too trite all the time.

For one thing, it's an interesting perspective. We've all read books that dealt with racism, but they're usually told either from a black character's point of view, or sometimes by someone who's white but actively and deliberately caught up in the racial struggle. Lily is neither of these things. She's a white girl who, having been raised in a very prejudicial society at a time when racial tensions were extremely high, has a certain level of prejudice herself. What she's managed to avoid, perhaps partly as a result of being raised by a black woman, is the fear and hatred that accompanies many people's racism. And that gives her just enough openness that she's able to learn to move past it. Quite quickly, after encountering the Boatwright sisters, she not only recognizes, but acknowledges her own long-held prejudices, and it's kind of interesting to watch her get past those, only to realize that she still has to deal with the rest of the world's. Finding herself the lone white girl in the middle of a tight-knit black community also gave her the opportunity to see things from the other side a bit, and it was eye-opening for her to realize that a person can be disliked for being white just as much as they can for being black. Some interesting stuff in there. Nothing really earth-shattering, but like I said, it's just enough to keep it from being completely trite and to offer a few moments of reflection.

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