The Seasonal Reading Challenge discussion

GROUP READS > Little Bee Discussion - will contain spoilers

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message 1: by Sandy (last edited Aug 31, 2010 07:55PM) (new)

Sandy | 15905 comments Mod
If you choose to read Little Bee for the Group Reads task (or another task for that matter) please feel free to discuss it here.

message 2: by JenniferD (new)

JenniferD (jooniperd) I was really with this book and it's characters, right up until the ending. It really fell apart for me there. Did anyone else find the end out of keeping with Sarah's behavior? Cleave's ability to capture the voices of Little Bee and Sarah is remarkable; truly amazing!

message 3: by Deedee (new)

Deedee | 2079 comments I was really looking forward to this novel. The first chapter of this book was great. The writing pulled me into the story and I cared about the character of Little Bee. Unfortunately, the book went downhill fast after the first chapter. I found the British characters to be inconsistent and completely unbelievable. My "willing suspension of disbelief" fled. The book's credibility is lost when the secret itself is revealed, and that is because it just doesn't make any sense. The ending was aggressively stupid .... what is the worst choice the characters could make? That's the one they made! Not recommended.

message 4: by Deedee (new)

Deedee | 2079 comments Jennifer wrote: "I was really with this book and it's characters, right up until the ending. It really fell apart for me there. Did anyone else find the end out of keeping with Sarah's behavior? Cleave's ability t..."

Hey Jennifer! To answer your question: Yes! Her behavior was inconsistent throughout the novel, of course, but the last chapter was especially inconsistent with what went before, particularly with regards to ... to ... *must keep this spoiler-free* her relations with the other characters.

message 5: by JenniferD (new)

JenniferD (jooniperd) Deedee wrote: "but the last chapter was especially inconsistent..."

Hi Deedee.

This thread is the spoilers thread, so spoil away! :D

I am glad I am not alone. I really cannot reconcile what Sarah did. It makes no sense to me at all. "Aggressively stupid" is an excellent way to put it! I also took issue with the book description - it was a little high and mighty for my liking. Coupled with the hype this book has received, I was super-leery of the whole thing. I still think Cleave did an amazing job writing the voices of Sarah and Little Bee. What a challenge it must have been!

message 6: by Deedee (new)

Deedee | 2079 comments Jennifer wrote: "Deedee wrote: "but the last chapter was especially inconsistent..."

Hi Deedee.

This thread is the spoilers thread, so spoil away! :D

I am glad I am not alone. I really cannot reconcile what Sa..."

Hi Jennifer

The first chapter was so good, too, that plus the hype raised my expectations higher than they usually are when reading a recently-published oversized paperback book that has a cool cover.

I had so many problems with the character of Sarah. She supposedly loves her husband, and is devastated when he dies; yet, for the entirety of her marriage, she has maintained a regular, close, sexual affair with another man. This man, while married with children, has no problem seeing her whenever he wants to. We are told that Sarah loves her pre-schooler son; yet she isn't disturbed by her son's insistence that he is Batman, and not Charlie. Sarah's acceptance goes beyond denial. And the ending! Knowing that people in Nigeria are being killed, she brings her son to Nigeria, lets everyone know that she is going to publish a book about atrocities happening in Nigeria, then takes her son and Little Bee out to a beach wherein, surprise, surpise, they get killed! It's not rational, it's not emotionally possible, for a woman to have the high level of cognitive dissonance (holding strongly conflicting ideas simultaneously) that Sarah has. Grrr! I was going to give it 1 star but then I decided to give the book 2 stars because of the excellent first part of the novel that centered on Little Bee.

message 7: by JenniferD (last edited Sep 08, 2010 12:54PM) (new)

JenniferD (jooniperd) Yes, my primary problem was Sarah taking her son on the trip. I took the book back to the library, but didn't she, earlier on in the book, comment about never going back to Nigeria because it is too dangerous? Am I recalling that correctly? Perhaps Cleave's intent was to magnify Sarah's impulsiveness at that moment? I don't know. It was such a stretch for me. Sarah, I don't think, was meant to be a likable character, so I didn't take issue with most of her actions/words. Just this last one. I think I gave it 3.5 stars because his writing really is good, to me. Also the man, writing women's voices, particularly Little Bee's, I thought was tremendous.

message 8: by L. (new)

L. | 74 comments I liked this book a lot! I agree that the ending didn't make much sense, which is why this is a 4 stars read for me instead of 5 stars, but apart from that I thought it was great. I really liked the writing style and the way the author captured the voices of the characters.

message 9: by Coralie (new)

Coralie | 2078 comments I read the ending as Little Bee getting killed, not all of them.
The whole point of the book was the ignorance of the British public to the events happening in these countries and the conditions in the detention centres. Although the soldiers can treat their own citizens however they like, they can't afford to draw attention to their activities by killing foreigners.
Little Bee was deported because the British authorities did not believe that she would be killed if she returned to Nigeria. Sarah thought that she could collect enough information to prove Little Bee's case for asylum. Perhaps she was naive, but at least she was trying.

message 10: by Brooke (new)

Brooke (brookeonbooks) It sounds like I'm alone on this, but I found Sarah's behavior throughout the novel to be believable. Yes, she is all over the place: one minute resigning from the magazine she launched and devoted a huge part of her life to making a success, the next minute wondering if she made a mistake quiting the magazine, her confusion over continuing the affair with Lawrence, and then finally her decision to continue Andrew's book on detention centers including the research trip to Nigeria. The reason I readily believed all these actions that would normally be viewed as "crazy" is because Sarah is grieving...grasping at straws to try and make it through the incredible shock and guilt she feels over her husband's death.

I didn't care for the doesn't really tell the reader what exactly happened. Little Bee / Udo is grabbed by a soldier...then what? Do they go to Starbucks and share a latte? I hate when the author leaves such major things unsaid/unresolved.

All in all, however, I thought the book was very well written. I kept having to remind myself that the author was male, because both female voices felt authentic to me. I enjoyed the manner in which the story progressed, with small details about the beach incident or Andrew's death being added chapter by chapter.

I do agree with everyone's comments about the book description "Don't tell anyone what happened...don't ruin the magic!" being misleading and basically a bunch of crap.

Lastly, I ADORED Charlie, especially his insistence on wearing his batman costume all the time. His thought process and grammar really 'sold' me on him being a little kid at the age where the make believe world is more real than the actual world.

message 11: by Kristina (new)

Kristina  (kristina254) | 39 comments I loved this book, I loved the characters and if they did behave in an erratic way i didn't care. I had the voice of Little Bee in my head, her intonations, her smile. The way she accepted her fate was what made her character work more than anything.

That the ending doesn't explicitly seal her fate doesn't matter. We don't need to hear details of questioning, abuse, incarceration or worse. We are left with a girl who finally lives up to her real name. She finds Peace in the inevitability of it all.

I adored Charlie, his insistence on being someone else, his fight against evil. I despised Lawrence for being spineless, I could see him never leaving his wife for Sarah.

Sarah was probably the character I liked least in the book, not because she was poorly written but because she didn't really stand for anything. Once back in England she was happy to continue her life without making her journalistic stamp on the world, still not committing to either her husband or her lover.


message 12: by Terri FL (new)

Terri FL (territhemuse) | 527 comments I think I am also in the camp of believing the character's behaviors. Yes, Sarah was erratic but she was also grieving. I think she was also a tad spoiled and made bad judgments, but that is part of her character. Are any of us much better? Do we fully commit to things or are sometimes content to just go along, not making too many waves? I would like to believe I could have made different choices than her but probably not.

I also loved Charlie and the descriptions of his batman character! Lawrence was the one I disliked the most. This does not necessarily sour the book for me. It is part of reading that some characters you will like and some you will not but that does not take away from the wholeness of a book for me. Authors, to me, are under no obligation to write about characters that everyone will love. In real life, people are much more complex and we do not love or hate them fully.

I listened to this book which also gave me a different experience then reading it. I enjoyed the narrator, especially her accent for Little Bee.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and the story. I would probably rate it 4 stars.

message 13: by Elizabeth (NC) (new)

Elizabeth (NC) | 185 comments After reading the first chapter of this book, I couldn't stop talking about it (even though I was supposed to keep it a secret). I held on through most of the book and kept recommending it to my friends--by the end however, I stopped. I understand in some ways, Little Bee wanting to have closure and to say good-bye to her sister, but I have a hard time believing that she would allow Charlie to go into that situation. Sarah may have been naive, but Little Bee was not--she knew exactly what could (and did) happen, and I think she loved Charlie so I don't understand why she made the choice. The author could have possibly had a similar theme of an ending if Sarah and Charlie had to leave Nigeria and leave Little Bee there--she could have accepted that she was stuck and made some sort of sacrifice to keep Charlie safe, but not have made the choice to go back to the beach. The last couple of chapters kind of ruined the book for me.

message 14: by Kelly (new)

Kelly | 130 comments I really enjoyed this book...right up until the point when I didn't. For the majority of it, it was really a five star book, but the ending completely fell apart. It felt like the kind of book that wasn't completely conceived when the author began, if that makes any sense. The beginning was written so beautifully, and completely drew me in, but little by little it began to fall apart until the completely unbelievable ending. I do agree that his writing style and "voice" were very good.

I also have to say that the scene in the graveyard w/Charlie jumping on his father's coffin was like ripping my heart out! I have a 3 year old little boy myself and it was VERY difficult to read. I sat in bed and sobbed while reading it.

message 15: by southpaw285 (new)

southpaw285 I liked this book but I didn't love it. To me it was just okay. I had a hard time with Sarah. She just didn't make sense. I did not like the ending at all. I'm sure there are many books where the author leaves the ending to speculation, and I think that is great as long as it is well done. For me personally, this story did not justify the speculative ending.

message 16: by Jayme VA (new)

Jayme VA | 789 comments I hate to say it, but I was kind of annoyed by this book. The only characters I liked were Little Bee and Batman. Everyone else was just horrible. The story was a good one, but I don't think it deserved all the hype it got. It's a different sort of story and well written, but I don't see this as the easily lovable sort of book. I'm glad some of you enjoyed it more than I did.

message 17: by Sandie (new)

Sandie (chocdrop) | 214 comments Like others have said, I enjoyed this book until towards the end, which I found rather contrived.

I have no problem with not knowing what ultimately happens to Little Bee. Chris Cleave wrote the book to try and highlight problems with the UK Immigration system and I feel the ending fits in with that, after all when someone is deported, we have no idea what happens to them.

message 18: by Heidi (new)

Heidi (heidi422) I am with many of you saying that the ending fell utterly apart and was completely dissatisfying for me. There was no redemption in this book. Little Bee was swallowed by injustice and a finger wasn't enough, devotion wasn't enough. Its message was that we are completely helpless to change injustice in this world and its because the public is completely apathetic. But all these things wasn't enough to overshadow the excellent writing and strong female voices from a male author. What did was the story fairly BEGGED to be more--more complicated, longer, just bigger. It's like he left 1/2 the story somewhere up in the clouds. It just didn't feel fleshed out enough.

message 19: by KSMary (new)

KSMary | 802 comments I just finished the book this afternoon and couldn't wait to read everyone's thoughts. I thought Cleave did an excellent job of making Little Bee so real and Charlie so endearing. I also didn't mind the open ending. As for the other characters, I felt sorry for Andrew, couldn't stand Lawrence and didn't understand Sarah. I don't think Lawrence's involvement in the story added anything. When he showed up on Sarah's step is when the story got lost. I thought I understood Sarah until she took Charlie to Nigeria...what mother takes her child to a dangerous country while she investigates a story that she knows could get her killed. Who could be that naive believing that as a British citizen she's "safe" or her mere presence will keep Little Bee safe. I think I'm going to give the book 3 stars despite the lack of fulfillment from the book.

message 20: by Sugar Snap (new)

Sugar Snap (jusamy) | 168 comments Little Bee was...interesting. I was really looking forward to this due to the description on the back cover and all of the good things I had heard, but in the end it was quite..ah..shabby? There was no cohesiveness, and once I was finished, there was feeling of completeness. I felt like there should have been another at least 10-20 pages. Also, Sarah's affair was quite annoying. I understand making your characters flawed, but jumping into bed with another man immediately after your husband kills himself? To me, this made her comtemptible, and I lost almost all desire to finish the novel. If not for Little Bee's character, I would have put it down and walked away. Sarah is certainly flawed...but fatally so.
In the end, I gave the book three stars, and I feel like that is being generous.

message 21: by CaseyKS. (new)

CaseyKS. (kcmasterpiece_2000yahoocom) | 35 comments I finished Little Bee earlier this week and I felt that Cleave did an excellent job of putting voice into his characters. Since I work with children I think he did a great job of portraying Charlie's character and putting into words how little kids can sometimes act. I felt I personally knew his characters by the end of the story. I did find some parts hard to read (the really gruesome and gory parts on the beach) and sometimes I felt those chapters would never end but when the suspense picked up I was hooked. I am a little disappointed in the ending. I need more closure to the end of a book than that. I also despised Sarah's character with the whole affair with Lawrence (out till all hours at parties instead of being home with her child-while her husband is working late). I felt she was flawed and therefore didn't really care much for her character but in the writing felt that you could almost pick her, Little Bee and Charlie out of a crowd. I will give this book 4 stars due to Little Bee's character. I would give it more if the book would have had more closure to it.

message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

I am also with many of youin the sense that I loved the book, I couldn't put it down but I was not satisfied with the ending. It's not that I needed the happily ever after ending so much as I got so drawn into the character of Little Bee that I hated not knowing what happened to her in the end. I also agree with Casey, I hated Sarah's affair with Lawrence, her character got on my nerves a lot. I think that Cleave did a great job portraying the character of Charlie I wa hysterical while reading the part at Andrew's grave. Overall I loved the book and Little Bee was a great character but I was left wanting something more.

message 23: by Sera (new)

Sera I thought that the book was average. I actually enjoyed reading the author's thoughts in the postscript more than the book itself. Sarah didn't bother me. I thought that the affair was inappropriate, of course, but Sarah was her own woman and her conduct throughout the story is one of independence. She is the strongest character in the story, and I found it interesting that Cleave made the two men in Sarah's life weak.

I didn't mind the ending either. I found it hopeful and I felt pretty confident that everything would work out for everyone.

All in all, I'm happy that I read the book, but I didn't think that it was a good as most people did.

message 24: by Bluemoon (new)

Bluemoon (bluemoon286) | 1839 comments I think that Cleave is a good writer but I just did not like the story he told. I liked the characters of Little Bee and Batman (Charlie) but did not like the others much. I found Sarah really annoying. I don't think that Lawrence added much to the story at all. And I agree with the others the end just fell apart. I gave it 3* because of the writing.

message 25: by Christie (new)

Christie | 1 comments I agree with the people that stated that Sarah's behavior was believable. Throughout the book Sarah was confused with her future and her life. You can see that from the begin with her husband, with her relationship with Lawrence and with her and her job.

However, I liked the way we where able to read both women's perspectives, till the end. I did not mind the open ending it gives you hope that they left Charlie alive. The only thing is I wish that they gave Sarah more of a voice at the end. Both of the women seemed to have a equal say through out the book till the end when it was mostly in Little Bee's perspective.

message 26: by BJ Rose (new)

BJ Rose (bjrose) | 822 comments Did anyone else feel the inevitability of outcome for Little Bee when she was asked to call the police and wait to meet them when Charlie went missing at the beach? Given the mutual empathy between Bee & Charlie, it would have made more sense for her to help with the search while Laurence got the police. And you could tell that Little Bee knew what the likely outcome would be, but she did it anyway. And then the irony of not needing the police to find Charlie, but by then Bee's fate was pretty much sealed.

As to the ending - I didn't mind that the author left the ending to our imagination, but I was definitely left with the understanding that things would not go well for Little Bee; at best, she would be in a permanent detention facility, but I don't think she was that optimistic. And again, she sacrificed herself for Charlie.

message 27: by Aleksandra (new)

Aleksandra (aleksandrakonwa) | 777 comments I like this book. Like most of you I like Little Bee and Batman. Little Bee because my husband was immigrant and came to Uk under lorry. And I love Batman coz Ive got 3 years old who wears Batman clothes too and I must call him Batman :) But Laurence was for me the worst character. I didnt like this all immigration subject because I know it looks different. But the book was fiction and life is different.
I wrote down one quote from book "Freedom is a future when you can live the life of your choice" .
And I gave 5* and I recommend to all.

message 28: by Chris (new)

Chris | 31 comments BJ Rose wrote: "Did anyone else feel the inevitability of outcome for Little Bee when she was asked to call the police and wait to meet them when Charlie went missing at the beach? Given the mutual empathy between..."

I think the part where Little Bee calls the police for Charlie means more than just the surface inclination. She says that before when she found Andrew, she didn't call the police, ultimately, because she chose to save herself instead of Andrew. I think that should be determined in direct contrast to her calling the police for Charlie. She paused and questioned the action, so she knew what she was doing, but made the sacrifice for Charlie because she felt he was more important..... at least that's how I read it.

message 29: by Chris (new)

Chris | 31 comments Like everyone, I loved Batman and Little Bee was definitely the heroine of the book.
I'm still a bit undetermined on Sarah as a character but I think she was meant to be a bit more than just a person in the story. I read her character as being kind of an allegory for Britain and other country's involvement in harboring immigrants. She is very back and forth with a lot of things and that is also how she treats the situation that happened on the beach in Nigeria. She hacked off her finger to save a girl's life but then never followed up and pushed it out of her mind for two years. Seems like the back and forth attitude of other people towards starving children in Africa. We feel sad for them and may even send in our dollar a day to the infomercials, but it doesn't keep us from sleeping on our expensive mattresses at night.

The ending was open to interpretation so I can't really prove my point, but I chose to read it as more of an optimistic ending. I figure it was probably the end for Little Bee, but I believe her sacrifice allowed Charlie and Sarah to live. In that sense, the story kind of goes on. That's why Bee told her name to Charlie, because he could hold onto it. There is also the possibility that Sarah made it back and the end of Little Bee's story made it into her book. This interpretation may be naive but I like how it gives the possibility that something from this story keeps going.

message 30: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa | 26 comments My feelings toward the novel Little Bee swing between the appreciation for the great writing and disbelief at some of the characters. I feel that Sarah could have fought harder and used her head more regarding both Little Bee and her son, Charlie. And Lawrence?? I think he could have been a better character by being a better man. After learning what Andrew was working on, it was regrettable that he didn't have bigger part in the book. I liked the book, I just didn't Love this book.

message 31: by Sera (new)

Sera Chris wrote: "Like everyone, I loved Batman and Little Bee was definitely the heroine of the book.
I'm still a bit undetermined on Sarah as a character but I think she was meant to be a bit more than just a per..."

I really enjoyed your interpretation of how the book might have ended. It's optimistic, but presented in a unique way, which made me appreciate it.

Sarah was too strong for the men in her life, and I think that some of her ambivalence may have been because of how she attempted to handle her relationships. Her choices were not always sound, but she stood by them.

When I also read about Little Bee letting Andrew die, I didn't understand why Cleave included that in the book. But I think that the comment about later Little Bee saves Charlie because she didn't save Andrew brought an understanding to the story that I didn't have before. Thank you for that!

Part of the problem for me was that the book was so overhyped, which made it difficult to live up to expectations. Sometimes a book wows me anyway, but this time, it didn't. Some of my friends who read the book felt the same way. In the end, I'm sure that this doesn't change anything, but it does tend to set a higher bar for me as the reader going into the story.

message 32: by Lauren (new)

Lauren | 58 comments I really enjoyed reading this book. It was interesting to see the way Cleave portrayed some of the same events from both Sarah and Little Bee's point of view. And the character of Charlie is adorable! For me, he made parts of the book.

I know many of you were ocnfused by Sarah's irractic behavior, but it made sense in a weird way to me. She is at this major crossroads in her life - even from before the time that Andrew died. She loves her son, her husband, and her lover, and has all these people who love her, but I get the sense that she is very unfulfilled. Her actions are her way of searching for something that will fill that void.

I do agree with Vanessa's opinion of wanting to see more of Andrew's character in the book. He is presented in a somewhat unfair light - it would have added something to the book to see his view on some of the events before his suicide.

message 33: by Donna Jo (new)

Donna Jo Atwood | 3157 comments I am getting so much out reading all your various comments about this book. When I read it when it first came out I felt, like Sera, that it had been way over-hyped. But from the number of thoughtful comments I've been reading here, most of you have been able to go beyond that and see what the characters are really about which meant I had to reread the book.

message 34: by Jennifer N. (new)

Jennifer N. | 423 comments I didn't enjoy this as much as I thought I would. I found the ending particularly unsatisfying. I feel that the author left it too unfinished. To me the book had no "real" ending and I just didn't like the novel all that much.

message 35: by Karen Michele (new)

Karen Michele Burns (klibrary) | 1692 comments Other than agreeing that the ending left me a bit unfulfilled, I loved the writing of Little Bee. I agree that Cleave excelled at capturing Little Bee's and Batman's voices and they are the two characters that really made the book for me. I listened to the book, and the reader also read those two characters so well that I could really picture them. I don't have to like a character to like a book, and I wasn't that fond of the other characters. I felt that Sara showed strength in the initial time in Nigeria when she saved Little Bee, but I didn't feel she was a particularly strong woman otherwise. I don't think having an affair is a characteristic of a strong person; the greater strength comes from the daily hard work of seeing someone through mental illness.I enjoyed the first part of the book the most, but gave it 4 stars for the writing, forgiving my frustration with the abrupt and rather unbelievable ending section.

message 36: by CathyNJ (new)

CathyNJ Truppo | 68 comments I just finished reading this book. I really enjoyed the story. I agree with the other readers that the story ended very abruptly. I wish the ending was different. I don't know like Sara writing and finishing the book or even just getting Little Bee's paper's in order. I would definietly not have brought my son to the beach that changed all of the main character's lives and not for the better. I can understand that Little Bee wanted to say goodbye to her sister but I would not have brought my 4 year old child along.


message 37: by Valorie (last edited Nov 04, 2010 01:15AM) (new)

Valorie  | 824 comments I have to say this book just wasn't my cup of tea. I felt like it was way over-hyped. The first half of the book was ok, and then just went down hill from there for me concluding with the abrupt ending. I'm really not sure why the book is described as "hilarious" because I found it to be exceedingly far from hilarious.
To me the characters were neither endearing or engaging, I felt as though I was just reading words on a page instead of being sucked into the story and characters.

message 38: by Christine US (new)

Christine US (christineus) | 572 comments For the comment above about not being disturbed by her son's insisternce togo by "Batman": I find that to be common amongst friends with kids. It's not saying the parent is a bad parent -- it's simply just going with the flow of your child and letting them just run with it. Charlie didn't have a simple life (parents dying, self-absorbed mother, etc) and maybe just letting him go by "Batman" was the lesser of the evils. Children come down from their imaginary games eventually.

It's not my style of book. I can't say that I'll ever it read more than once or recommend to a friend. But it'll be interesting to see how well the movie they are making (with Nicole Kidman as Sara) does - I bet they won't advertise in the same poor fashion as the book jacket!

message 39: by Michelle (new)

Michelle  (mnmgbwi) | 198 comments While I have to agree with most people that the character of Sara was very inconsistent (even to the point of being unlikable), I did really like this book. Being a mother to a young daughter it ripped my heart out and I really had trouble getting through parts of it.

I have no way of understanding the dynamic of Sara and Lawrence (nor do I really want to quite frankly), but I gave some leeway to her character based on the fact that she was mourning her husbands death (and really her current lifestyle). I, like others, was appalled that Sara brought Charlie to Nigeria with her, but at the same time I really sobbed thinking that even though Little Bee would be killed she knew that part of her would life on in Charlie.

Immigration and refugees are such a hot button issue right now that just maybe a book like this will be able to make a few people really think about how easy it is to "just do their job" or have such closed minds and hearts to the rest of the world.

message 40: by Wendy UK (last edited Nov 07, 2010 09:20AM) (new)

 Wendy  UK (wendyuk) | 756 comments Once I started this book I could't put it down. It's taken me longer to think what to say in this discussion - because I seem to be at odds with most of the comments here. The character I most related to was Sarah, who I found totally believable.
I did wonder if the title alters one's feelings about the book - being in the UK the book I read is called The Other Hand which I felt was partly a reference to Sarahs mutilation and therefore makes her more of the focus than Little Bee, who you feel must be the main character in a book with her name as the title. I liked the symbolism of Sarah's missing finger, which constantly reminded her of the turning point in her life and her unsatisfactory relationship with her husband.

I liked the way Chris Cleave expressed Little Bee's amazement at things she saw in Britain by her thinking how she would explain them to the girls back home. Especially Sarah's beautiful home, and the sight of mixed race families playing together in the park. I also liked the way Little Bee believed that by learning to speak the 'Queen's English' she would be able to make her way in England - she learnt it very well but because the detention centre gave her no experience of British life she was unable to apply it properly and it just made her stand out as a foreigner.(like Eliza in My Fair Lady!)

I also think it important to note the irony of the quotation at the beginning of the book, regarding Britain's pride in its tradition of providing a safe haven for those fleeing persecution and conflict, when many such people are locked up and then deported.

Unlike many readers I liked the ending of the book, partly because it brought us full circle back to the beginning(of the story, not of the book), and also because it serves to emphasise the uncertainty of life in many countries of the world. People live in fear because they just don't know what will happen next. And that is the reality for someone denied asylum and sent back to a place of danger.

A five star book for me.

message 41: by Dee (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 7593 comments finished reading up Little Bee today - i really wanted to like it, but I just had a hard time connecting with Sarah, maybe because it was her persective being written by a guy, maybe it was because I've not experienced what she went through (losing her finger, her husband etc)...but I had a hard time with her parts of the book. I liked Little Bee's perspective and having studied a bit about Nigeria and the Delta region, I know some of the factural background that helped me understand the political side of what was going on more

the ending felt really the author was told, you have to limit the book to 260 pages and when it was reached it was over...unless he is planning on writing more...that could be the only explaination for leaving it as he did

I'd probably only give this 2 stars out of was ok, but I wouldn't rush out to re-read it or recommend anyone else to read it...oh well! the one thing I love about this challenge is that I pick up books I normally wouldn't read, this being one of them

message 42: by Lindsey (new)

Lindsey (mamamunky) | 172 comments I just finished Little Bee, and I really liked it. I thought that Cleave did a really good job with the voices of both a Nigerian teenager and a British woman. I hated all of the male characters, I found them both pitiable. Lawrence especially was just a selfish piece of sh*t. I didn't like the ending, especially with Charlie running towards Little Bee, I thought I was going to have a heart attack. I think that Cleave did a good job there because I could see it happening and was emotionally entangled enough to cry. I've recommended this to a few friends of mine. I don't think this book was as well written as The Kite Runner or as good a book, but I did see some parallels between the two. I ended up giving it 5 stars, but it was probably nearer a 4.5 for me.

message 43: by Carla (new)

Carla (carlajones) | 94 comments I just finished Little Bee - I really enjoyed the writing style, but I have to agree with many of the other posters - Sarah's actions towards the end of the book didn't ring true. She waffled throughout between being strong and weak. I don't feel a strong mother would take her child to a place where she knew there was the very real potential for violence. And in her circle, it seemed more likely that she would be able to connect with the authorities and at least stall deportation.
With that said, I really enjoyed the writing style and use of dialogue and the character of Little Bee.
3 stars :)

message 44: by Lindsey (new)

Lindsey (mamamunky) | 172 comments Yea I though the ending was a little out of character. Having just had a baby, even if I was in the same positions as her, I don't think I would ever think of bringing my baby to that country. I would do anything I could, but there's no need to put his life in jeopardy.

message 45: by Foxy Grandma (new)

Foxy Grandma (foxygrandma) | 997 comments I liked this book, but it was definitely not one to read for fun. It is very meaningful, but also very depressing and heartbreaking. At the same time, there is hope, goodness and innocence shown through the little boy, Charlie. You will cry and you will laugh and in the end, you will think.

message 46: by Barbara VA (new)

Barbara VA (barbarava) I am still not sure how I fell about the book. The first chapter was, as everyone else agrees, beautiful. The concept of sarah and her vulnerability throughout did not put me off, she is a complex and confused modern woman. I guess that I want my fiction to be fiction and if this is based on real stories of real people, and the real attitudes of the British, write non-fiction and tell us everything. The fictionalization of Little Bee's life demeans the sorrows that so many others have faced and just gives a hand slap to the attitude of the public who lets this kind of horror continue.

message 47: by Colleen (new)

Colleen (itscolleeeeeeeen) | 9 comments I thought Little Bee was worth reading. It was definitely an interesting look at a compelling and contemporary story, but like many others here I took issue with some of the characters' actions. Making the characters less than perfect obviously adds to their realism, but I thought some of the reactions Sarah had were way off. I enjoyed reading Little Bee's chapters far more than Sarah's, in part because her story was more dramatic, but more because of the voice Chris Cleave gave her. Some of the language he used was so beautiful! There was a line in the beginning-ish about sunshine dripping through the clouds like honey in a broken blue bowl (sorry, I didn't write down the page number, so I don't have it exactly) that I particularly loved.

All in all, while I’m not jumping out of my chair to shout its praises from the rooftop, I am sure I'll recommend Little Bee at some point.

Also, I hope the movie isn't terrible.

message 48: by Meera (last edited Dec 04, 2010 05:39AM) (new)

Meera | 127 comments **Spoilers**
Like previous comments, I also liked how this novel started. But then it started going downwards for me. Once she had found Sarah, the novel stopped being as compelling. The beach scene annoyed me because instead of being horrified at what was happening, I was thinking how Andrew couldn't be believable as a journalist if he couldn't believe what was happening in front of him. Once I started questioning the authenticity of the characters, I couldn't get into the book and kept getting annoyed by the actions of the characters (bringing Charlie into Nigeria while interviwing?) except for Little Bee and Charlie.

message 49: by Angela (last edited Aug 23, 2015 05:52AM) (new)

Angela | 1 comments Ok, so I'm a little late to the party, but the question I have is about the ending. Why were the guards approaching her in the first place? I thought the guards were the "good" guys. Why was she in trouble with them? The guards are not the same people who killed her sister. Those were the evil village-destroying, raping and pillaging guys. The guards were against those bad guys. Why would Little Bee be in trouble with them? And when they arrive at the hotel, they say she was not arrested because Sarah bribed the guards. What was she supposed to be arrested for? This is the confusion I have and I'm surprised nobody else is asking about this, which tells me I might have misunderstood something, lol!

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