Laurie's Reviews > Little Bee

Little Bee by Chris Cleave
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's review
Feb 18, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: 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 going to end until I was at the last page.

It'll be a movie---no doubt about that. It played like a movie in my head. I loved it, though.
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Reading Progress

February 18, 2009 – Shelved
February 22, 2009 –
page 15
February 25, 2009 –
page 150
Started Reading
February 26, 2009 – Shelved as: favorites
February 26, 2009 – Finished Reading
November 26, 2009 – Shelved as: fiction

Comments (showing 1-17 of 17) (17 new)

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malia have you read arthur golden's "Memoirs of a Geisha"?

Laurie No, and for the same reason. I even bought it in hardback when it first came out, and started reading it, but it began to bother me, that little voice in my head. . .

I realize I'm being irrational by most people's standard. It's just my personal prejudice.

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Laurie...I too was particularly impressed with Cleave's ability to write so effectively in/as the voice of a woman...I found Cleave's writing to be very poignant.

message 4: by Florida (new)

Florida I kept waiting to read the ending that no one was supposed to share with me before I read the book -- after I finished the book, I was still waiting. What was so special?

Mom Taxi Julie I didn't know it was a man that wrote it until half way through when I noticed the picture on the back. It always surprises me when a man can write in a woman's voice.

Laurie I believe I made the point that my preference is likely to be seen as irrational.

Just curious, Terrance--do you read a lot of female authors?

Laurie Of course, he says. Why "of course"? Because all men are enlightened? Because our schools assign female writers at the same rate they assign male writers?

See, what I did up there, in my review, was give my opinion. That's rather the point of a review. You're welcome to insist that my opinion is wrong, of course, but why don't you just write your own review? That way, you get to take a chance and take a stand rather than just insist others are wrong. Besides, you didn't comment on the book or review; you just chose to go after a quirk of mine that I took the risk to disclose to help make my point.

I've found that, the older I get, the more unlikely I am to be so cocksure that I'm RIGHT and others are WRONG. I've come to understand this from the Tao te Ching: "The more you know, the less you understand."

Laurie All this because I said I "generally pass." Your chastisement amuses me.

message 9: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin Laurie ~ Shame on you. You are terribly wrong. AND! Terribly stupid. Ten lashes with a wet, limp noodle.

Katie I know I'm a little late in the game on this argument, but I couldn't resist to share my two cents (that is what goodreads is for, after all)!
I think it's funny that Terrance feels the need to mention his MFA program and years of intense study. To be fair, I bet that this curriculum has afforded him a chance to read many books, including books where authors successfully capture the voice of their opposite sex-and I'm truly happy to hear it can be done (and I agree)! BUT this does not negate Laurie's opinion. Especially since it would be "terribly stupid" to ignore the fact that there is a foundation for it; there are many authors who cannot capture the female voice (Arthur Golden was an excellent example), and there continues to be an prejudice against female writers. I'm glad Terrance has read so many female authors, but I know for a fact that a lot of my male friends are not so open to "girly novels." As a woman, it is (albeit irrationally) annoying when a male author writes in a female voice. Aren't there female authors getting ignored who are writing the same thing?! Honestly, for me it is simply a knee-jerk reaction to years of inequality, and I think that is fair!

On Laurie's review: The reason that I read this whole argument is because I was curious what people said about your review. I was curious because I agree with what you said; Chris Cleave did an excellent job writing in a female voice (something that deserves to be note and praised when done successfully) and this book was ADDICTIVE.

Laurie I asked you if you read many female authors. From this you deduce I assume you "to be a dumb man who doesn't read women and hates vaginas." I certainly did not assume this about you, but I am beginning to suspect you are merely a troll.

Either that or spectacularly defensive.

message 12: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl Another book written by a man in a woman's voice that is done well is 1000 White Women, by Jim Fergus.

Claire Polders Just happen to see your comment and can't resist: please give "Mating" a try from Norman Rush.

message 14: by Rachel (new)

Rachel  Wheeler I love the way u wrote the first paragraph of the review, I totally agree

message 15: by John (new) - rated it 4 stars

John Man writing in a woman's voice, check out Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill. I thought he pulled it off well. But I'm a guy.

Laurie Thank you for the recommendations.

Bridget Martin Thanks for sharing your review. I read an ebook and missed author's photo.
I assumed early on that Chris Cleave was a woman. Usually I would not give the author's sex much thought but, for me, there was a disparity between the quality of the portrayals of Little Bee and Sarah.
Little Bee's character was clear and rich. Sarah seemed a little off to me. I wondered if the author was a man because of the uneveness.
Later I questioned both portrayals.
Finally I decided they were both well rounded characters that I might not agree with all the time. Just like real people.

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