This book…is basically another one of those masterpieces that you can’t help but stare at in awe. The plot, the writing and just the development of these characters that you connect with from the beginning is so spectacular and breathtaking I can’t help but fall in love with it every time I read it. I’d heard amazing things about it and I’d heard so many people rave constantly and I knew eventually I would have to suck up all my tears left over from The Fault in Our Stars and read it. I always make myself read a book before watching the movie so I hadn’t allowed myself to watch the Dakota Fanning movie since it came out a couple of years ago. After finally getting the book I was ecstatic because the movie was supposed to be just as good (which is was but that is a different topic completely) anyways to those of you who have yet to read it here is a summary:
Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily’s fierce-hearted black “stand-in mother,” Rosaleen, insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily decides to spring them both free. They escape to Tiburon, South Carolina–a town that holds the secret to her mother’s past. Taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters, Lily is introduced to their mesmerizing world of bees and honey, and the Black Madonna. This is a remarkable novel about divine female power, a story women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.
If you’re reading this post to see whether or not you should check it out then I tell you 100% to get to a bookstore and grab any copy you find (or look on cheap book selling sites and get it for 99p like i did (; ) Don’t read the rest of this post unless you want to be thrown down with SPOILERS. Read the book. Come back. And see if we agree 😛
Now this book was written in a particular style that reminded me of The Kite Runner (though after reading that book a lot of other books I read remind me of it). It felt realistic, it felt as if it was happening right in front of my eyes. I have to admit there were passaged that were very dense and descriptive and I lost focus multiple times but you have to push through until the very end because the connection you get with the characters is worth it.
I think the most upsetting part for me was the death of May. You grow attached to her as a person and accept her through all her quirky actions. The thing I got even more upset about was the fact June accepted Neil’s proposal afterwards…not allowing May to see her marriage after all that time of rejecting him when we all knew she was crazy about him! I did find the story of Lily’s mother’s connection with August…a bit shaky. It seemed to develop quite quickly towards the end as if the author needed to find some way to tie up all loose ends.
I loved the small romance between Lily and Zach as well as her beautiful friendship with Rosaleen. The way in which Sue Monk Kidd captures the way society dealt with racism at that time from a perspective other than the higher class is brilliantly done and I found myself entranced by the life which these 3 sisters lived in. The “Black Mary” storyline as well as the event in which Zach ended up in prison due to unjust reasons were really interesting and when Rosaleen finally managed to vote I wanted to go in and give her a a massive hug and punch the other three guys who treated her horrifically at the beginning.
Lily’s father was a complex character. At some points I hated him and at other points I found myself feeling sorry for him and realising that if what he said was true about Lily and the fact she was the one who killed her own mother…I wouldn’t know how to act either. I mean okay I wouldn’t go to that cruel extent but I wouldn’t be able to deal with it for a long time either. The way that scene of realisation as to what happened came with Lily and August was also another sudden leap and I felt it could have been lengthened a little bit a developed. Another scene that broke my heart was the scene with Lily’s father at the end where he said he can’t tell her she didn’t do it. I guess in a way that leaves us hanging but I sort of want to believe him because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to find any other redeeming qualities in him.
Plot: 7 points
Characters: 8 points
Originality: 7 points
Language/Style: 8 points
Overall I give this book 30 points out of 40.
A brilliant book with a brilliant story. After reading this I definitely recommend watching the movie. Though it can never match the book…it’s still a great time-waster ^^
Favorite Quote: “If you need something from somebody always give that person a way to hand it to you.”