Adrian Charles's Reviews > Little Bee

Little Bee by Chris Cleave
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's review
Jan 29, 2012

it was ok

This story will dazzle those who were unaware of the dehumanisation of refugee immigrants, or for whom compelling African/ Caribbean characters are a new, intriguing concept- high achievement rather than basic expectation.

The author has clearly done his research, and written with talent and skill; Little Bee especially is clear and lyrical.

Still, for me, the novel falls flat. The tantalising themes are mostly unexplored, the female characterisations remain shallow and unconvincing, and the story fails to transcend common racial stereotypes, e.g. African Brute, Magical Negress, Liberal White Savior. I was also left cold by the climactic "choice on the beach"- it seemed thin fare both as moral symbol and as pragmatic account.

In the end, for me, this novel serves as a reminder: don't look to England for nuanced, vibrant stories about Africans... but the character and voice of Little Bee herself remains a high achievement, of which Mr. Cleave should be proud.
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