Sara's Reviews > Little Bee

Little Bee by Chris Cleave
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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 adventure, within these very pages!

The characters are well-drawn, complex and flawed; and the plot is simple but anchored in questions of morals versus convenience, courage versus fear, first world questions versus third world realities, childhood versus adulthood, true identity versus concealing aliases.

I moved through it pretty quickly, as the characters constantly mention situations before the reader learns about them, I would rush ahead impatient to understand the back story. There are no pleasant back stories. It all works though, as does the convention of alternating narrators between Sarah Summers-O'Rourke and Little Bee. Little Bee had such a precise voice, such perfect phrasing, such a frank way of speaking.

I was also a pretty big fan of Cleave's pitch-perfect Jamaican accent for Yevette.

An interesting read, definitely an excellent way of juxtaposing two cultures and examining the limbo between survival and legality. If you aren't interested in the weight of this story, at least read the first two pages when you are browsing in the bookstore or the library. Just don't expect the book to go on in that vein.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
March 1, 2009 – Finished Reading
March 6, 2009 – Shelved
March 11, 2009 – Shelved as: fiction

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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Charity I couldn't agree more. You nailed it! That was my experience with the book in a nutshell.

Nancy Great review! I loved it when Little Bee was telling the story. She was funny and very observant. Sarah was too melodramatic for me. I think I would have felt sorrier for her if she hadn't been having an affair and if she hadn't been so wishy-washy. Frankly, I didn't even like Charlie when she was telling the story. I liked the story best at the beginning. It had a very promising start so the rest was a disappointment.

Sandra This is so helpful - thanks!

SuperNerdo Great review! You bring up a good point about dialect. I think Cleave did an excellent job of transcribing the character's speech patterns into written words. I can hear Little Bee's Nigerian voice so clearly. It's not an easy task to accomplish, but Cleave nailed it!

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