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The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

The Secret Life of Bees (original 2002; edition 2002)

by Sue Monk Kidd

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23,13653891 (3.91)487
During the summer of 1964 in rural South Carolina, a young girl is given a home by three black, beekeeping sisters. As she enters their mesmerizing secret world of bees and honey, she discovers a place where she can find the single thing her heart longs for most.
Title:The Secret Life of Bees
Authors:Sue Monk Kidd
Info:Viking Adult (2002), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 320 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (2002)

  1. 412
    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Caramellunacy, rosylibrarian)
    Caramellunacy: Both stories are about a young girl in the South coming to terms with racism. Secret Life of Bees features an teenaged protagonist whereas To Kill a Mockingbird's Scout is quite a bit younger, but I thought there were themes that resonated between the two.… (more)
  2. 241
    The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Alliebadger, Alie, Neale, readysetgo)
    Neale: Both deal with racial issues and are slow moving but enjoyable
  3. 130
    Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe: A Novel by Fannie Flagg (VictoriaPL)
  4. 111
    Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen (lasperschlager)
  5. 90
    White Oleander by Janet Fitch (leahsimone)
  6. 70
    Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns (ddelmoni)
  7. 116
    Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells (SimoneA)
    SimoneA: Both well written books about the strength of women and forgiveness.
  8. 61
    A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly (AmethystFaerie)
  9. 40
    Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff (rbtanger)
  10. 20
    Small Island by Andrea Levy (tina1969)
  11. 20
    How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff (HazardMain)
    HazardMain: both books, though set in totally different surroundings, tell the story of a teenage girl who finds a place to call "home" for the first time in her life
  12. 53
    Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons (rbtanger)
  13. 20
    The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (readysetgo)
  14. 87
    The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (leahsimone)
  15. 10
    Rush Home Road by Lori Lansens (teelgee)
  16. 21
    Bliss by Peter Carey (meela)
  17. 00
    Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall (Iudita, BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Set in the American South during the 1960s, these moving coming-of-age stories star motherless white girls whose strong bonds with older African-American women result in dangerous yet eye-opening journeys that unfold against the backdrop of the burgeoning civil rights movement.… (more)
  18. 00
    Soul Kiss by Shay Youngblood (greytone)
    greytone: The larger-than-life black women of both novels provided the young girls an example and a moral anchor to which they could fasten their drifting life rafts. Both novels are fine examples of how important these silent members of the community are, and how critical these things are to forming successful and productive lives.… (more)
  19. 11
    Paradise by Toni Morrison (Booksloth)
  20. 00
    In the Midnight Rain by Ruth Wind (EmJay)
    EmJay: Both books are set in the South, and both involve motherless daughters coming to terms with their past and finding a community.

(see all 22 recommendations)


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» See also 487 mentions

English (526)  Norwegian (3)  Catalan (2)  Portuguese (1)  Vietnamese (1)  Swedish (1)  German (1)  Danish (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (537)
Showing 1-5 of 526 (next | show all)
Denna berättelse må vara fylld av smärta och sorg men kärleken strålar igenom på nästan varenda sida. ( )
  autisticluke | Nov 14, 2019 |
I read this for my book club, so not a book I would have necessarily selected for myself. While I found the book readable I found the writing was just plain bad. The plot didn't hang together and the characters were too good to be believable. Then there's the ending.....everything gets wrapped up perfectly ad quickly in the last 20 pages or so, like the author ran out of time and had to just finish it. Perhaps a fun easy summer read, but only if you can overlook major flaws. ( )
  technodiabla | Nov 3, 2019 |
Lily Owens is a motherless child being raised by a uncaring and often violent father and a black woman, Rosaleen who is a sort of nanny and housekeeper. After Rosaleen gets arrested for spitting on the shoes of some white men when she tried to register to vote, she is arrested and Lily is with her. Eventually Lily manages to get Rosaleen out of jail and they flee to a town in South Carolina based on a relic which left by her mother. A wooden piece has the label of the Black Madonna Honey in ? South Carolina. When they reach there, they are taken in by a trio of black sisters, May, June, and August. August is a beekeeper and the owner of the Black Madonna Honey business.

The Black Madonna is actually a figurehead from an old wooden ship that the sisters have kept in their living room and which has become the center of a mixture of Catholicism and something more naturalistic.

The story is somewhat of a stretch when the reader finds that August had also taken in Lily's mother many years ago. ( )
  maryreinert | Oct 4, 2019 |
In a well-written and poignant book, Sue Monk Kidd tells the story of Lily Owens, a fourteen-year-old girl living in South Carolina in 1964. Lily is abused by her redneck father, whom she calls T. Ray rather than “Daddy” or some other family name that would indicate closeness and protection. Lily feels unloved and misses her mother, who died when Lily was only four years old. The only person in her life who seems to love her is Rosaleen, her black nanny. Lily cherishes and keeps hidden a few items once owned by her mother, one of which is a jar of honey featuring a black Madonna on the label and referring to Tiburon, a nearby town.

When Rosaleen runs into trouble for trying to vote, she and Lily run away and head for Tiburon. Aside from securing safety for Rosaleen, Lily hopes to find out something about her mother.

In Tiburon, Lily and Rosaleen are taken in and given succor by the Boatwright sisters: May, June, and August (jocularly referred to as the “calendar girls”). The women are beekeepers and sell their honey under a label featuring a black Madonna, just like the one found among Lily’s mother’s things. The Boatwrights are black, which doesn’t bother them or Lily, but their white neighbors are sorely troubled by that fact.

The Boatwrights and some of their friends practice some odd religious-like behaviors featuring devotion to a black Madonna. Lily comes to realize that the strength of the black Madonna actually lies within those who honor her. Similarly, Lily sees that she herself has to be the source of her own strength. But she also learns from studying the social interactions of bees in their hives that the ability to be effective and realize power can come from collaboration as well as from individual efforts.

Evaluation: This is a creative coming-of-age story nested inside a social and racial justice parable. It begins as a tale of a teenager who is unloved (by her father), and possibly abandoned (by her mother). She ultimately finds love and self worth by running away from what would traditionally be considered "home," and finding “real” family with a group of nurturing women. All of the characters are well-wrought and either sympathetic or, where appropriate, despicable.

(JAB) ( )
  nbmars | Sep 2, 2019 |
Lily Owens is on the threshold, about to pass from childhood to being a teen. She does not have much innocence to lose – growing up with the knowledge that she accidentally killed her mother when she was very small. Her father, a peach grower in South Carolina, is a hard man, and she’s been raised by one of his former pickers, Rosaleen. 1960s South Carolina is also on a threshold, the civil rights movement is at the door. When Rosaleen gets into an altercation with some of the local ‘boys’, she and Lily flee. Their flight opens the door to Lily’s past and all of her unanswered questions come tumbling out. ( )
  Seafox | Jul 24, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 526 (next | show all)
Lily is a wonderfully petulant and self-absorbed adolescent, and Kidd deftly portrays her sense of injustice as it expands to accommodate broader social evils. At the same time, the political aspects of Lily's growth never threaten to overwhelm the personal.

» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kidd, Sue Monkprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Frezza Pavese, PaolaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Paredes, LauraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The queen, for her part, is the unifying force of the community; if she is removed from the hive, the workers very quickly sense her absence. After a few hours, or even less, they show unmistakable signs of queenlessness. - Man and Insects.
For my son, Bob, and Ann and Sandy with all my love.
First words
At night I would lie in bed and watch the show, how bees squeezed through the cracks of my bedroom wall and flew circles around the room making that propeller sound, a high-pitched zzzzzz that hummed along my skin.
The secret of a good lie is don't overly explain, and throw in one good detail.
"She liked to tell everybody that women made the best beekeepers, 'cause they have a special ability built into them to love creatures that sting. 'It comes from years of loving children and husbands,' she'd say."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Great story about a young girl's journey to discover her mother and herself. Southern tone is always fun.
1960s: Lily has grown up believing that at the age of four she accidentally killed her mother. She not only has her own memory of holding the gun, but her father's account of the event. Now, at fourteen, Lily yearns for her mother, and for forgiveness. Living on a peach farm in South Carolina with her father, she has just one friend, Rosaleen, a black servant of uncertain age. When racial tension explodes one summer afternoon, and Rosaleen is arrested and beaten, Lily is compelled to act. Fugitives from justice and from Lily's harsh and unyielding father, they find sanctuary in the home of three beekeeping sisters...
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Average: (3.91)
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2.5 84
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4 2619
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An edition of this book was published by HighBridge Audio.

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