Mark's Reviews > Little Bee

Little Bee by Chris Cleave
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's review
Jul 16, 12

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction
Read from July 04 to 14, 2012

Little Bee deserves the plaudits it's received, and the only thing that held me back from all-out adulation was my own desire for wrapping up loose ends -- I'm not spoiling the ending, but it will leave you with questions -- and my own struggle with admiration for the voice Cleave adopts for the main character, leavened with skepticism that even a teenage girl of preternatural wisdom would be so articulate and grounded.

Still, this is a rich, complex book with an important set of themes. A British magazine editor and her journalist husband, engaged in a not so solid marriage, take an impulsive trip to a beach vacation spot in Nigeria, right when fighting over newly discovered oil makes the whole area dangerous.

Into their lives comes Little Bee, as she decides to call herself, fleeing the men who pillaged her village, and creating a crisis that throws together the worlds of violence and poverty, and of privilege and money. That day changes all their lives, but it doesn't stop there.

When the book opens, Little Bee is in an immigrant detention center in the UK, and when she gets out, the only information she has about where to go is the address of the man she met that fateful day on the beach.

Thus begins the later chapter of their lives, in which Little Bee re-encounters the family she met months before, establishes a bond with the woman's 4 year old son, who won't take off his Batman costume or stop fighting the "baddies," and where the outcome for all their lives is far from certain.

There is no way to discuss the end of the book without giving away too much of the plot, but suffice to say that the decision Little Bee and her new guardian make about how to respond to what has happened in Nigeria is both hopeful and incredibly naive.

I have a feeling this is a book that will stay with me for a long time.
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07/06/2012 page 20
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