Laura's Reviews > Little Bee

Little Bee by Chris Cleave
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's review
Apr 27, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction
Read in May, 2009

Chris Cleave is nothing if not ambitious. In Little Bee, he not only takes on the issues of immigration, globalization, imperialism, and personal responsibility, but does so in the voices of two unforgettable women, one a solidly middle-class English fashion magazine editor, the other a 16-year-old Nigerian refugee. As you might imagine, Cleave doesn't deal with these issues in a pat way, nor does he allow his readers to do so. And although parts of this book are very, very difficult to read -- all the more so because they seem to come from out of the blue -- they don't seem cheap or manipulative.

Like a lot of readers, I'm trying to figure out whether the coy flap copy for this book, which practically tosses its curls before the readers' eyes and says that it can't give away a single plot point lest the whole book be ruined, is a brilliant bit of misdirection or a piece of cutesy-poo marketing gone awry. Being the cynic that I am, my money is on the former. The copy makes the book sound like it's going to be one of those faux-whimsical Oprah-type tales, a la The Secret Life of Bees or Before Women Had Wings -- you know, the old "two timid women find each other and before you know it they've engaged in an orgy of personal growth like you wouldn't believe and become their bestest best selves." It's not, but I'm guessing some marketer figured he knew what sells.

I also can't figure out why the American publisher didn't release the book under its original British title, The Other Hand, which is a far better title, thematically and otherwise, than Little Bee.
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02/17/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-2)

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Julie I was also wondering about that title change!

Laura It depresses me, because it makes me think the publisher thought "The Other Hand" was too subtle for Americans, and that they would respond better to a cutesy-sounding title. Which may be the truth, given the lousy flap copy.

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