The Secret Life of Bees The Secret Life of Bees discussion


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LIBM305 Discussion group- Chapters 1-3

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message 1: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa Shadrick I would like to begin the group discussion for "The Secret Life of Bees." I was thinking that we could discuss a few chapters at a time. Let me know if this works for the group. Thanks! Happy Reading!!!
~Lisa Shadrick


Patricia I've read this book twice and loved so much about it. If I can find my copy,(I tend to lend out and not get back), I'd like to participate. Patty G.


message 3: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa Shadrick Patricia wrote: "I've read this book twice and loved so much about it. If I can find my copy,(I tend to lend out and not get back), I'd like to participate. Patty G."

Would love to have you join the discussion, Patty!


Mgross Hey there! I just finished the book and I loved it! I will make sure to try to keep my comments to the chapters we are discussing. :)


Haley Elliston Hello! It took me awhile to get here, but here I am! I am currently on chapter 7 of the book, so I'm really looking forward to this group! I teach 9th grade English, and every year we read To Kill A Mockingbird. As soon as I started this book, I felt like I was back there again! I love this book - it is so great to read yet another book that the story from the viewpoint of a young girl. I love the gritty personality of Rosaleen as a contrast to the characters of Mockingbird, but I also love the similarities that run between Scout and Lily.


Kaye I loved everything about this book. Excellent!


message 7: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa Shadrick The first chapter of Bees is heart-wrenching. Lily has way too much to handle at her young age. As a mother, I could never imagine my daughters having to live without me. A young girl needs a mother. She is trying to fill a void with Rosaleen. I do believe that Rosaleen loves Lily in a motherly way.

The swarm of bees in Lily's room is such a metaphor for her situation. The window is open and freedom is so close, but they do not leave. Lily is confined to a world that she cannot escape.

I was deeply saddened by Lily's remembrance, "My first and only memory of my mother was the day she died." The pain that she lives with because the only memory of her mother is her death must be awful to live with every day. Then, she must live with the thought that, "She was all I wanted and I took her away." Not only does she have to live with that pain, but she lives with the hatred of T. Ray.

Lily just wants to figure out how to be a girl and find a woman who would be a mother figure to her. T. Ray's anger over the death and loss of his wife (even though he was cruel to her) does not warrant a chance for him and remarriage.

The scene when she is being disciplined with the grits on the floor was tough to read. She was simply having a moment with her mother's items so she could stay connected to her. Though Lily did not share the information with him, she was not getting into enough trouble that she should be disciplined to the point of bleeding.


Renae Piatt Sorry, I have finally found my way here :) I am so excited to discuss this book, I love it! I will keep checking in to see where we are with discussions


Mgross I agree that there are certain scenes in this book that are tough to read. It is difficult for me to relate to having such a disconnected father. My father was the gentle (nerdy)type and I always felt that he was there to listen. It is hard to read about such a disconnected parent. I also felt very saddened by the only memory of her mother being of her death. When my son was 4 I had a very serious illness and was hospitalized for much of the year. I often would contemplate what memories my son would have if I passed away. I still carry this with me and often overcompensate with my son, because I feel I missed out on parenting him through this difficult time. I can't help but relate this experience to Lily.


message 10: by Kay (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kay Deperno Lisa wrote: "I would like to begin the group discussion for "The Secret Life of Bees." I was thinking that we could discuss a few chapters at a time. Let me know if this works for the group. Thanks! Happy Read..."


message 11: by Kay (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kay Deperno this is one of my all time favorite books. I love the beauty of the people, the sisters, in this book. one so innocent, one wise, one angry. and the sweet child who needed them all so much.


Theresa Powers The characterization in the book is so great. You really get to know these people who are filled with bittersweet moments in their lives. They live life in a simple way but seem to have very complex problems. I really feel for the main character longing for her mother and wanting to know her better. She learns about her mother through others, but she also learns how her dad is a very dangerous person. I really enjoyed this book.


message 13: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa Shadrick Throughout this book, Lily's ability to not see the color of anyone's skin is beautiful. It all starts with her relationship with Rosaleen. She just wants a friend. The color of one's skin does not matter when it comes to the heart. Lily's love and need for companionship drives her to commit the crime of helping Rosaleen escape out of jail.
The best thing that could happen to Lily is wandering in to the home of May, June and August. The three sisters showed Lily what a strong woman can do. The sisters did not let their skin color dominate their lives. They lived with strength! The sisters can teach and do teach Lily about being strong in who she is no matter her past. Lily searches to learn about living with strength and dealing with her mother's loss. In the end, Lily is just a girl looking for a mother figure. I do believe that Lily finds who she needs to assist her in finding herself and dealing with her painful past.


message 14: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa Shadrick Another quick insight...the symbolism of a bee hive. The queen sets the climate/pace for all others to follow. Who do you think is the "queen" in Lily's life: Rosaleen, May, June or August?


Mgross good one! Maybe the story is about becoming your own queen in your life?


Sigrun Hjartardotti I really liked it, even if I found it tough to read; the harsh realities of life in those times shone through. I read it in Icelandic, but look forward to reading it in its original language as well.


message 17: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa Shadrick I believe that all the women in Lily's life play a role in finding her inner "queen." Lily is a lost little girl simply looking for guidance since her mother is not alive. Each women teaches a lesson. Each lesson makes Lily more well rounded.

Here is another question...how much guilt do you think Lily lives with regarding her mother's death?


message 18: by Mgross (last edited Oct 19, 2011 07:09PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mgross I think this guilt is a guiding force in her life. Imagine thinking you killed your mother! She mentioned hearing the whispers from people who gossip about the tragedy. She feels branded as the girl who killed her own mother. She doesn't see the full picture yet, and as any child, the world revolves around herself and thus every event wheather good or bad is a result of her own behavior. Lily's thoughts on her role in her mother's death have not matured because of her father's own resistance to share the whole truth with her so she can see view her mother as an entire person, rather than just existing in this one major and tragic event.


message 19: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa Shadrick I cannot imagine being a young girl and living with the guilt of someone's death, especially my own mother. Lily just wants her mother. And then to have a father hate you so badly because he blames you for your mother's death is doubly painful.

Lily's journey to May, June and August's home allows Lily to learn more about her mother than she ever would have. I remember the part when Lily is telling August about T Ray and her mother. Lily says she can hear, "You are unlovable, Lily Owens. Unlovable. Who could love you? Who in this world could ever love you?"
Lily believes what her subconscious voice and does not believe she should be worthy of any happiness. Her guilt consumes her existence.


Renae Piatt Lisa wrote: "I believe that all the women in Lily's life play a role in finding her inner "queen." Lily is a lost little girl simply looking for guidance since her mother is not alive. Each women teaches a les..."

I honestly good not imagine the guilt that she is feeling. That is a very tough situation to be put in and that T Ray has sort of fed off of. He uses that to make sure that he can keep full control of her; making the feelings she feels even worse!


Renae Piatt Lisa wrote: "I believe that all the women in Lily's life play a role in finding her inner "queen." Lily is a lost little girl simply looking for guidance since her mother is not alive. Each women teaches a les..."

I definately agree. I think Lily is reaching out to find a women that will be/act like her mother. She wants to experience the things she never got to with her mother. I think that is what Lilly likes about August.


message 22: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa Shadrick Throughout the book, I kept wondering if T Ray hates Lilly because of her mother's death or is he just a bad father? I think that T Ray knew that his wife was leaving him and I think he was desperate to hold on to her. When I read the book, I thought that T Ray really hated Lilly because of the death, but I saw moments that could have shown him to be a dad. I almost think that he was so wrapped up in his own grief that he never thought about Lilly.


Haley Elliston Lisa wrote: "Throughout the book, I kept wondering if T Ray hates Lilly because of her mother's death or is he just a bad father? I think that T Ray knew that his wife was leaving him and I think he was despera..."
I also think that this book says a lot about the time through its characters. T Ray is definitely what we would call a "bad father" in today's standards, but I think we also have to consider the somewhat harsh realities of those times. A man was not typically left in charge of raising a young daughter in those days, and relating with her, regardless of what happened to her mother, was something that he couldn't possibly be expected to do. He was, however, a truly abusive individual who does not deserve any explanation. This is also why I love teaching To Kill A Mockingbird so much - the setting of these stories is so alien to us in a way that reminds us how lucky we are.


Haley Elliston Mgross wrote: "I think this guilt is a guiding force in her life. Imagine thinking you killed your mother! She mentioned hearing the whispers from people who gossip about the tragedy. She feels branded as the ..."
I kind of think that this might be one of the strongest themes in this novel - not only is Lily trying to pick up the pieces of her lost childhood and piece together a life on her own and away from her abusive father and her own guilt, but she is also on a quest to gather whatever pieces of the women she encounters that she can in order to fill the hole left by her mother's death.


Haley Elliston Lisa wrote: "I believe that all the women in Lily's life play a role in finding her inner "queen." Lily is a lost little girl simply looking for guidance since her mother is not alive. Each women teaches a les..."
I think that Lily lives with guilt on somewhat of a surface level, but that she isn't old enough to have absorbed the true depths of not only guilt but of loss. Instead, I think that her search for her mother and for answers (which we all search for throughout our lives) is part of her becoming a woman. In a way, that guilt drives her to find these answers and will, in the end, serve her well.


Jessica Clement I just finished reading this book and truly enjoyed it. And although it's set in the '60s, I'm not sure if that much has changed down here in South Carolina.
Just kidding. But when the author describes the unpleasantly rediculous summer heat, she's hit the nail on the head.


Mgross I am curious about your 'just kidding' comment. I spent some time in North Carolina just before the war and felt that the separation between the races was much more evident than in my home state of Washington. I think the attitude is still there in the south, but whites know that it is not accepted and therefore keep it quiet as much as possible. I also got to experience the heat, and it was the humidity that really got to me. I often wondered why I bothered to put on make-up because it felt like it melted as soon as I walked outside.
Curious about how the religious aspect would play out in your area. I would hesitate to read this book in a classroom due to the uncommon religious beliefs that are brought up with the figurehead.


Ellies I'm so happy to find this group discussion. As a Master of Divinity student taking a pastoral counseling class--I will be reading this book and watching the video with the sole intent of applying pastoral counseling methods and techniques to two of the characters in this book. I purposefully chose Lily because she and I share a common bond. I grew up as a motherless child because my mother died at my birth. Believe me when I say---the things we experienced are parallel and I believe (though my research is not complete) occur in the life of many children who live with the pain of maternal death. It will be interesting to read the twists and turns of this discussion.


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