Kate Woods Walker's Reviews > Little Bee

Little Bee by Chris Cleave
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's review
Apr 18, 2012

it was ok
Read in April, 2012

Disappointing on almost every level, Little Bee attempts to say important things about sacrifice, moral failure, Western entitlement, oil wars, violence, political asylum, depression and disenchantment, and even child-rearing and office politics. What an ambitious list!

Chris Cleave, as has been already noted by many others, attempts to speak from the dual perspectives of a young Nigerian refugee and her widowed British benefactor. He succeeds somewhat when he writes as the title character, "Little Bee," and fails completely as magazine editor Sarah. His next book, Gold, will examine professional cycling. Here's hoping it's told from a male perspective.

The story itself does not deliver on the breathless dust jacket blurb that promises life-altering revelations. Plot twists that, ostensibly, must be kept superhero secret, lest readers reveal the book's secret identity, are no more shocking than those in everyday thrillers, and certainly no more horrible than an average news story out of Afghanistan. Characterizations are simple. Conversations are implausible.

And the moral of this morality tale seems to be that people are awful, and nothing matters much at all. Of the roomful of women who read this as a book club selection, not a single one liked the book's conclusion. A lone male reader found it amateurish but worthwhile. And since what little theme this book possessed was wrapped around female sacrifice (with darker woman sacrificing for white male child at that!), I vote with the majority and say "Bah" to this mishmosh.

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