Book Review: The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

“Someone who thinks death is the scariest thing doesn’t know a thing about life.”
― Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd is a beautiful story.The setting of this book is South Carolina in the 1960s. This was a period of racial unrest where racial segregation was still prevalent despite being the period of the Civil Rights Act. Sue Monk Kidd does a good job at taking readers back in time into the Southern town of Tiburon.

“When it’s time to die, go ahead and die, and when it’s time to live, live. Don’t sort-of-maybe live, but live like you’re going all out, like you’re not afraid.”
― Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees

The Secret Life 1
The story is about Lily Owen, a fourteen year old girl whose mother died leaving her with her father, T.Ray. Lily is a lonely girl who is looking for love. However, she can’t seem to get any affection from her peers or her father who is described as being very cruel. His punishments are so harsh and he seems to put down her down at every chance he gets. Luckily, Lily  forms a unique friendship with her African-American nanny, Rosaleen who seems be the only person who cares about her.

“What’s wrong with living in a dream world? You have to wake up.”
Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees

Lily and Rosaleen find themselves on the run when Rosaleen gets into a squabble with a group of racists hell-bent on punishing her. Rosaleen’s ‘transgression’ was trying to register to vote and this gets her jailed and beaten up by the racists. Lily uses this as an excuse to break her out of jail and run away from home especially after T.Ray tells her something shocking about her mother. It is while on the run that Lily and Rosaleen meet the ‘calendar’ beekeeping sisters, August June and May Boatwright. At this home, surrounded by colored women and the Black Madonna, that Lily finally finds love and healing. It is also at this home that Lily finally finds answers about her mother.

“Knowing can be a curse on a person’s life. I’d traded in a pack of lies for a pack of truth, and I didn’t know which one was heavier. Which one took the most strength to carry around? It was a ridiculous question, though, because once you know the truth, you can’t ever go back and pick up your suitcase of lies. Heavier or not, the truth is yours now.”
― Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd will take you on an emotional journey. It demonstrates how friendships can rise above all kinds of obstacles such as race. You will get attached to all the characters because of their uniqueness and some of them will break your heart(ahem…May). You will be moved by the unlikely friendships and even romance. The story is funny, sad and full of drama that makes it hard to put down the book. I found myself reading the book at home in the evenings, in coffee shops and in the Nairobi traffic. This is just a beautiful book. The copy that I read was borrowed from a library but this is one book that I plan to buy and add to my own personal collection.

“We can’t think of changing our skin color. Change the world – that’s how we gotta think.”
― Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees

The Secret Life 3This is the movie poster.The movie was pretty good too.

Note:I wrote this book review on January 18th 2016.By then I had read 5 books. I am half way through reading, Hiding in Plain Sight by Nuruddin Farah. My target this year is to read 50 books.I don’t know how many books I read last year because this is the first time that I am counting.

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