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Little Bee

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3.7  ·  Rating details ·  207,454 Ratings  ·  20,221 Reviews
From the author of the international bestseller Incendiary comes a haunting novel about the tenuous friendship that blooms between two disparate strangers---one an illegal Nigerian refugee, the other a recent widow from suburban London.
Paperback, 266 pages
Published February 16th 2010 by Simon Schuster (first published August 7th 2008)
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Patti Quintano I disagree with some opinions below. I think the story was much bigger than Bee's story . . . that is why the ending sublimate's Bee's little story to…moreI disagree with some opinions below. I think the story was much bigger than Bee's story . . . that is why the ending sublimate's Bee's little story to the bigger story still being written by and in the world.

I think the question of Bee's future is left open-ended, as a symbol of where we are now with the many social and cultural challenges before us as a global community that are presented in the novel . . . our future with these issues looks bleak like Bee's at the "end" of the book, but the end hasn't come yet, the last chapter still unwritten. It's not too late to write a happy ending for us as well, just as you can imagine that Sarah is not going to just walk away from Bee's future, either.

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Community Reviews

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Michelle
Feb 26, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like Little Bee. The reviews for it are exceptional. Book List starred it, Amazon named it among their “February Best of the Month” picks, O Magazine fondly mentions it. I mean come on, Library Journal labels it “the next Kite Runner” for goodness sakes! I couldn’t wait to be swept away. And I was… for the first couple of chapters. Little Bee’s character came on very strong and distinct. I felt like I could pick her out of a crowd and guess what she was thinking. But I gradually star ...more
Christopher
I would have ranked this higher, were it not for the ridiculous hype on the jacket and the annoying Editor's letter at the front; all of which tell me that is book will change my life, that it's a masterpiece. This book stands on its own without needing it.

I also pretty fundamentally disagreed with the assertion that "it's hilarious - although the scene on the African beach is horrific".

This is not a 'hilarious' book - it is one of the most challenging reads I have had this year. It tells the de
...more
Eleanor
Feb 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Chris Cleave's ability to float effortlessly between two distinct ethnic voices (Little Bee, a refugee from Nigeria, and Sarah, a young widow in England) as their stories spin out and around and through one another was nearly mystical.

Years before this book opens, the lives of Sarah and Little Bee violently collided on a beach in Nigeria, and when sheer determination and courage bring them back together again every secret of their hearts is unfolded before our eyes.

I found myself reading and rer
...more
Tina
Mar 17, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Laurie
Feb 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, fiction
I generally pass on books written by a man in the voice of a woman. And a white man writing in a black woman's voice? No, thanks. But this book gives nothing away up front, and I was hooked before I could worry much about the writer's intentions.

The chapters alternate between Little Bee, a Nigerian refugee, and Sarah, an English suburban mom. They are drawn together under extraordinary circumstances, and I found myself regularly surprised by the turn of events. I didn't know how things were goin
...more
F
Nov 06, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, uk
This book was nothing more than ok.
Good read but would recommend other books before this one.
The synopsis was a lot more exciting than it should have been.
Becky
Jan 05, 2010 rated it it was ok
I had hoped this would be a really incredible gut-wrencher, heartbreaker of a book, but I feel like it didn't really live up to the potential it had. Like it was a little scattered and unfocused, so instead of showing us exactly what we should see, we are instead shown the things that lie around the thing that we should see, and we have to put the picture of the thing together on our own.

If this book had just been about the relationship of two women who share a horrible event in their history,
...more
smetchie
May 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommended to smetchie by: Jamie Chamberlin
Have you ever met someone you idolized? (An artist or singer, maybe. Someone super talented or brilliant or famous.) But then when you met them in person you found out they were lame? What a rip-off!

That’s sort of how I feel about this book.

It's the story of two women and how their lives converge. Little Bee is a 16-year-old Nigerian refugee who has seen her entire village and family brutally murdered. Sarah is a 30-something suburbanite juggling career and family. The two women met once on a be
...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Feb 12, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jeanette by: TKE
This book WILL:

1)Make you laugh hysterically.
2)Disturb you mightily.
3)Make you think A LOT.
4)Make you examine your conscience,(provided you actually have one to examine). Especially with regard to immigration issues and the tendency of wealthier nations to throw money at every problem in the hopes of making it go away.

This book MAY:

1)Horrify you.
2)Make you angry.
3)Shock you.
4)Make you cry.

The basic story involves the relationship that develops between Little Bee, a Nigerian refugee girl, and Sa
...more
karen
Feb 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: distant-lands
i cant say anything about the plot of this book because the dust jacket pleads with me not to and i am nothing if not obedient. (but you can read plot points in all the other reviews by rebels) i will say i loved it enough to order in and set aside his earlier book, which had never called out to me before. and this is my favorite cover ... ever.
Laurel
May 04, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I would have to disagree with the back cover's claim that this book is "often hilarious." This book is anything but hilarious. While there are indeed moments of light reprieve through Little Bee's witty observations and Charlie's adamant insistence of keeping his Batman costume on at all times (to ward off the "baddies"), this book is much more often dark and disturbing.

Briefly, the book centers around a British couple with a troubled marriage who, while vacationing on the beaches of Nigeria in
...more
Aimee
Sep 21, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Isn't it funny when novels from their origin countries are marketed in the ol' U. S. of A. under a different title because it will 'sell better'. I can just imagine the pain the author must feel when they find that the title that represents their book seems as if it's just not good enough for the American public. I can think of a few such occasions where such a thing has happened:

*Northern Lights, by Philip Pullman = The Golden Compass.


*Harry Potter and Philosopher's Stone, by J.K. Rowling = Har
...more
Petra X
Mar 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
This is a book you should buy and not borrow from the library. Just to reward the author for such an amazing and exhilarating experience. Its as much like watching a film as it reading a book because the writing is so extraordinarily good (and clever). And this review is so dry because the author wants nothing of his book revealed. "The magic is in the way the story unfolds," he's said, and yes, it is.

And I am sooo going to enjoy hand-selling people this book in my shop. I will have so many hap
...more
Sharon
Mar 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-read
I've had this book sitting on my bookshelf for a couple of years now and I don't know why I haven't picked it up before now. Covering a range of subjects this book is beautifully written in my opinion.

A terrific story of friendship between two people who were complete strangers. Reading about their lives takes the reader on a journey that will not only have you turning the pages, but it will also leave you wanting more. I have no hesitation recommending this book.
PattyMacDotComma
5★+
“Most days I wish I was a British pound coin instead of an African girl. Everyone would be pleased to see me coming. Maybe I would visit with you for the weekend and then suddenly, because I am fickle like that, I would visit with the man from the corner shop instead—but you would not be sad because you would be eating a cinnamon bun, or drinking a cold Coca Cola from the can, and you would never think of me again . . . It can cross deserts and oceans and leave the sound of gunfire and the bi
...more
Sara
Mar 06, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The first three pages of this book deserve 5 stars. Absolutely. Little Bee is an excellent narrator and they were positively engaging/hilarious/touching/curiosity-inducing.

After that, the story gets pretty heavy. That's not a problem, but it struck me as a uncomfortably incongruous with the cutesy publisher's note on the front book jacket flap. It's got a coy little tone with some stylized all-caps, teasing about spoiling for the story for us, the readers, who are about to go on a magnificent ad
...more
Michelle
Aug 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
After reading Incendiary a while back I have been eagerly awaiting the publication of this book. It did not disappoint me. I started reading on Saturday morning and from page one I was totally hooked. I found it really difficult to put down, even when cooking. So many books around in my local book shop are "Summer Reads" so this was a refreshing change.

It's the story of Little Bee, a teenage refugee from Nigeria, and Sarah O'Rourke a British magazine editor. Horror makes their worlds collide and
...more
dyh_nyc
Mar 16, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I loved the first half of the book, but had a hard time getting through the second half. Little Bee, a Nigerian girl who escaped her country after a series of horrific killings, ends up in England. The story follows Little Bee from her time in Nigeria to her difficult transition to England; as well as a British couple, whose lives become deeply entwined with Little Bee. A lot of the effectiveness of the book comes from the plot twists, so I'll leave the plot description at that.

In my opinion, t
...more
Elyse
Jul 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful book. I don't know why I waited! It worked the way the author used 2 narrators to tell this story.

The little boy's character was a brilliant contribution --- Adults are no different (we just don't wear our Batman outfit every day). But aren't we always looking for ways to comfort ourselves? Ways to find inner peace? Ways to protect ourselves and those we love?

My respect for this author is HIGH!
Adira
I didn't really enjoy this book. The vague synopsis on the back of the book built the story up to be something that it eventually did not live up to.

On it's back cover, Cleave promises the reader that the way his story unfolds will be "magic" and that you will want to tell all your friends about it. While he is partially right in the fact that I do want to share my thoughts with all my [goodreads] friends, it is not for the reason that he thinks I should.

The way that Cleave crafted his story f
...more
Barb
A slice of literary brilliance sprinkled with what I can only think of as literary cow pies.

I can't figure out why Chris Cleave created so many beautifully written passages and then with the same keystrokes inserted such a horribly rendered and completely unnecessary character as Laurence into his story. I felt this juxtaposition of brilliantly imagined and horribly depicted (and or completely unbelievable) wove its way through the entire novel. I wonder if some of what I thought was ridiculous
...more
Lauren Cecile
Waaaaay overrated!
Carmen
Dec 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: I honestly don't know
Recommended to Carmen by: Caroline
This book made me so anxious and upset I found myself yelling at the characters. Especially Lawrence. "Lawrence!" I screamed, banging the book down on the table. "You little sh*t! If you hurt her I swear! I swear, Lawrence!" Luckily, I was alone at this time. Otherwise, people might have been concerned.

LITTLE BEE is not a relaxing read. Like so many books I have been reading lately, this book is about TRUTH. And the truth is painful. The truth is anxiety inducing. The truth is that life is not a
...more
Laura
Apr 27, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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 -- ...more
joyce g
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This story fills your heart so full in so many ways. Should be shared and loved.
alysa
Aug 12, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
UGH, What can I say. I hated this book! If you want to read about the most depressing events of a human life than this one is for you. What an emotional downer this book is. It does nothing but show you the evil that can be present in human nature from extramarital affairs all the way to murder. The overall gist of the story is about a Nigerian refugee. Yes, it is a story that should be told, but I would rather read about just the facts in a news article than something I am reading for "pleasure ...more
Regina
This is a book that compelled me to keep reading and had me thinking about it when I wasn't reading it. So that is why I gave it 3 stars -- books that can do that are worth it.

My main issue is that the characters seemed to be not real, but metaphors for problems in society and I feel like the end message was that the problems facing refugees and aslyees are bigger than the average citizen and it isn't worth it to get involved -- we cannot change the country dynamics and the bureacracy challenge
...more
Connie
“I was carrying two cargoes. Yes, one of them was horror, but the other one was hope.”

The writing of Chris Cleave is lyrical, descriptive, humorous and memorable. It flows in the narrative and carries the reader easily through the story. That moves this from a 3 star to a 4 star book for me. The story of Little Bee is a harsh and sad one. Her life goes from simple innocence, happy enough, to a horrible nightmare all in the blink of an eye. This makes her much wiser than her few years and much
...more
Fergal
Aug 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thought provoking, topical, excellent writing.
colleen the convivial curmudgeon
I'm sort of bouncing back and forth between 2 and 3. I need time to think about it.

***

I've decided to give it 2 1/2, because it was pretty good - and that's how I'm rating it. Not in the sense that "I liked it" as much as in the sense that "It was pretty good".

Overall, I liked the chapters that were narrated by Little Bee better than the chapters narrated by Sarah. Little Bee seemed more real - her chapters had humor and pathos - were touching and heart-breaking and funny.

I liked when she descri
...more
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Play Book Tag: Little Bee / Chris Cleve. 3.5 stars 7 18 Sep 07, 2017 04:44PM  
Little Bee - ending 47 604 Aug 28, 2017 12:51PM  
Refugees 1 8 Apr 20, 2017 11:32AM  
The Big Picture B...: Who has read "Little Bee"? 3 12 Mar 08, 2017 07:46PM  
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2,244 followers
Chris Cleave was born in London and spent his early years in Cameroon. He studied experimental psychology at Balliol College, Oxford. His debut novel, INCENDIARY, won a 2006 Somerset Maugham Award, was shortlisted for the 2006 Commonwealth Writers' Prize, and is now a feature film. His second novel, LITTLE BEE, is a New York Times #1 bestseller with over 2 million copies in print. GOLD is his thir ...more
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“On the girl's brown legs there were many small white scars. I was thinking, Do those scars cover the whole of you, like the stars and the moons on your dress? I thought that would be pretty too, and I ask you right here please to agree with me that a scar is never ugly. That is what the scar makers want us to think. But you and I, we must make an agreement to defy them. We must see all scars as beauty. Okay? This will be our secret. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived.” 393 likes
“We must see all scars as beauty. Okay? This will be our secret. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, 'I survived'.” 364 likes
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