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The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

The Secret Life of Bees (original 2002; edition 2008)

by Sue Monk Kidd

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19,81747482 (3.91)414
Title:The Secret Life of Bees
Authors:Sue Monk Kidd
Info:Penguin Books (2008), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 336 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

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

  1. 381
    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. 212
    The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Alliebadger, Alie, Neale, readysetgo)
    Neale: Both deal with racial issues and are slow moving but enjoyable
  3. 110
    Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg (VictoriaPL)
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    White Oleander by Janet Fitch (leahsimone)
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    Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen (lasperschlager)
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    Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns (ddelmoni)
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    Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells (SimoneA)
    SimoneA: Both well written books about the strength of women and forgiveness.
  8. 40
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  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. 21
    Bliss by Peter Carey (meela)
  13. 21
    The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (readysetgo)
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  16. 00
    Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall (Iudita)
  17. 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)
  18. 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.
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» See also 414 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 462 (next | show all)
Sue Monk Kidd has written a touching, coming of age story set in a newly segregated South Carolina in the sixties. Orphaned at age four, Lily Owens lives with a harsh and neglectful father whose form of punishment, beside the usual backhander, is to force her to kneel on hard grits for hours at a time. A pair of white gloves and a picture of a Black Madonna are the only connections Lily has left of her dead mother. Her nanny and surrogate black mother, Rosaleen, gets into trouble with the law when she tries to exercise her right to register her vote. Fourteen-year-old Lily sneaks Rosaleen away from the clutches of the police and they escape detection by living with three black sisters who operate a bee keeping outfit.
This is a moving story of a young girl searching for clues to validate her dead mother's love. The author's style is brilliant and her characters vivid and endearing. After rereading this book twice, I can, with great confidence, recommend it to both teens and adults, and to teachers who are looking for a great class read that will present both the historical and emotional spirit of that era.
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  BooksUncovered | Feb 17, 2015 |
The Secret Life of Bees takes places in the 1960s in South Carolina and it tells the story of Lily Owens and her unlikely relationship with the Boatwright sisters.
  EmKel753 | Dec 2, 2014 |
Having read THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES years ago, as well as watching the movie; decided to listen to the audiobook after reading Sue Monk Kidd’s latest, THE INVENTION OF WINGS.

Narrated by Jenna Lamia, Kidd’s debut novel was just as strong as I remembered. A story of Lily Owens a fourteen-year-old white girl, living alone with her father, a peach farmer, in Sylvan, SC.
As the novel opens, she lies in bed, waiting for the bees that live in the walls of her bedroom to emerge and fly around, as they do most nights. T. Ray, her father, is abusive and does not believe her story about the bees.

Her nanny and housekeeper, Rosaleen, believes Lily; however, thinks Lily is foolish for trying to collect the bees in a jar. Lily recalls her very last memory of her mother, Deborah, who died when Lily was a small child. Lily thinks that she played a horrible part in Deborah’s death.

In a flashback, readers learn that T. Ray told Lily that she accidentally shot Deborah while Deborah and T. Ray were fighting one day. The next morning, Lily accompanies Rosaleen into town, where Rosaleen intends to register to vote. Instead, a group of racists harass Rosaleen, and gets arrested for affronting them. T. Ray picks up Lily at the prison and tells her that the men who accosted Rosaleen will most likely kill her. This news understandably frightens Lily, particularly as Rosaleen is the only person in her life who truly loves Lily.

When Rosallen insults three of the town’s racists, Lily decides they should escape to Tiburon, SC – a secret to her mother’s past. They are taken in by three eccentric black beekeeping sisters who introduce Lily to a world of bees, honey, and the Black Madonna who presides over their household. A remarkable and heartwarming story of the power of love!
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  JudithDCollins | Nov 27, 2014 |
I've heard a lot about this book. An opportunity came up for me to read it, and since most people I know have read it, I decided to jump on the opportunity. I wouldn't say I regret reading it, it was a good book, but I don't see what the big deal is.
I always hear people obsess over this book, and frankly, I don't get it. I mean- I liked the book, but i didn't see what was all so great about it. People would always tell me that I have to read it, and it seemed like it was practically a classic, but I've read books that are for more deserving than this one. It was good, but it wasn't that good.
One thing that really bothered me was Lily. I mean, sometimes I really liked her. She was spunky, and had a great personality. However, more often than not, she drove me freaking crazy. Maybe I didn't really have cause to be mad at her, but I was, and I can't change that. I hated how she lied to the sisters. I understood that she wanted to feel normal, but lying to them was stupid. She kept on making up excuses for why she couldn't tell the truth, but they weren't valid excuses at all. The whole reason she was there was to find out about her mother, and she didn't do that until the very end of the book. Then, when she did, she just complained about it the whole time. Yes, her mother messed up, but didn't Lily realize that not everything is about her? Lily had her moments, but most of the time, she just made me really angry.
I really liked the sisters though. I thought each of them were really well written, and they were all different, which was nice. When I had first heard about them, I had assumed that they would be the same person with little quirks that made them "different", but they were wildly different, and each had a completely separate personality, which was incredibly nice.
One thing that I absolutely adored about this book was Zach and Lily's relationship. I thought they were one of the cutest couples ever, possibly behind only Noah and Mara, from The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. Each of their scenes made me smile, and I loved the way they worked together.
I thought this book was really good, and not necessarily undeserving of the hype, though I couldn't quite understand it. Either way, it was a pretty good read, though I wouldn't suggest it right away.
Three out of Five Stars
Get this review and even more here: http://themessengerreviews.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-secret-life-of-bees.html ( )
  TheMessengerReviews | Nov 23, 2014 |
This was a book selected by my book club, so it wasn't my cup of tea,and I wouldn't have picked it up in a shop. Having said that, I found it initially off-putting but so well-written that it drew me in in spite of myself.

Lily has an unclear memory of the day her mother died, and she believes she herself picked up the gun and it went off. If that wasn't enough to bear she is left with a father who appears to hate her (he certainly bullies her, even by 60s southern standards)and a few treasured things she found in the attic that belonged to her mother - and a friend in her nanny/housekeeper Rosaleen, who previously worked on her father's farm. The US Bill of Rights has just been passed, and Rosaleen is determined to register her right to vote. The white men of the town obstruct her, and Rosaleen ends up in jail. An outraged teenage Lily helps her escape and they run off ... to find themselves at a honey farm, with the delightfully eccentric May, June and August, who keep bees for half the county.

Well, that's the setting, and as I said, it draws you in. What could have been just another story of the struggle for integration is so much more, with Lily's view of the world so much at odds with everyone else's. There is a lot about bees and honey-making, a lot about life in South Carolina, some wacky takes on religion, and I was glad I continued reading it to the end. It's a beautiful read.

( )
  Jemima_Pett | Nov 11, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 462 (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 (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sue Monk Kiddprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Frezza Pavese, PaolaTranslatorsecondary 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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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0142001740, Paperback)

In Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees, 14-year-old Lily Owen, neglected by her father and isolated on their South Carolina peach farm, spends hours imagining a blissful infancy when she was loved and nurtured by her mother, Deborah, whom she barely remembers. These consoling fantasies are her heart's answer to the family story that as a child, in unclear circumstances, Lily accidentally shot and killed her mother. All Lily has left of Deborah is a strange image of a Black Madonna, with the words "Tiburon, South Carolina" scrawled on the back. The search for a mother, and the need to mother oneself, are crucial elements in this well-written coming-of-age story set in the early 1960s against a background of racial violence and unrest. When Lily's beloved nanny, Rosaleen, manages to insult a group of angry white men on her way to register to vote and has to skip town, Lily takes the opportunity to go with her, fleeing to the only place she can think of--Tiburon, South Carolina--determined to find out more about her dead mother. Although the plot threads are too neatly trimmed, The Secret Life of Bees is a carefully crafted novel with an inspired depiction of character. The legend of the Black Madonna and the brave, kind, peculiar women who perpetuate Lily's story dominate the second half of the book, placing Kidd's debut novel squarely in the honored tradition of the Southern Gothic. --Regina Marler

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:23:46 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Now in paperback comes the intoxicating debut novel of "one motherless daughter's discover of ... the strange and wondrous places we find love" ("The Washington Post"). Sue Monk Kidd's ravishing work is set in South Carolina in 1964.

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