Friday, January 4, 2013
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Author: Sue Monk Kidd
Publication Date: 2002
Length: 336 pages
The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of a young white girl named Lily Owens, living in South Carolina in the 1960s, whose mom died when she was young, and whose father is abusive and just all-around horrible. When one of the family's black servants, Rosaleen, goes to jail for insulting the town racists, Lily breaks her out and they run away to Tiburon, South Carolina, a location chosen by Lily because it was written on the back of a picture of the Black Madonna that belonged to her mother. Once in Tiburon, the two are taken in by three black sisters who keep bees.
I liked this story a lot more than I expected. I feared a book steeped in White Saviour crap, ala The Help*. Instead, Lily is saved by the black women she meets. She's an interesting character, because she's too young and sweet-hearted to really be a racist yet, despite her home town, but she does realise along the way that she has prejudices she wasn't even aware of.
This is an interesting story about a key moment in African-American history (black people have just won the right to vote, but trying to actually register to vote can still get them killed). It's also a beautiful story about a family that's been through a lot of pain, but still find strength in each other, and in their somewhat-Catholic-somewhat-Goddess-worshiping religion.
*To be honest, I haven't actually read The Help. My negative opinion on it is based entirely on reviews and whatnot that I've read about it.
Posted by Lianne Lavoie at 7:00 AM