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The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
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The Secret Life of Bees (original 2002; edition 2003)

by Sue Monk Kidd

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19,28046483 (3.91)387
Member:melaney
Title:The Secret Life of Bees
Authors:Sue Monk Kidd
Info:Penguin Books (2003), Edition: 1st, Paperback, 336 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:****
Tags:None

Work details

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

1960s (87) African American (78) American (75) American South (111) beekeeping (130) bees (229) book club (125) civil rights (236) coming of age (329) contemporary fiction (95) family (224) fiction (1,947) friendship (86) historical fiction (165) honey (78) literature (72) love (61) novel (227) own (104) race (87) race relations (95) racism (276) read (227) South (119) South Carolina (227) southern (131) southern fiction (66) to-read (189) unread (72) women (221)
  1. 361
    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. 202
    The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Alliebadger, Alie, Neale, readysetgo)
    Neale: Both deal with racial issues and are slow moving but enjoyable
  3. 100
    Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg (VictoriaPL)
  4. 80
    White Oleander by Janet Fitch (leahsimone)
  5. 91
    Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen (lasperschlager)
  6. 60
    Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns (ddelmoni)
  7. 106
    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
    Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff (rbtanger)
  9. 41
    A Northern Light = A Gathering Light by Jennifer Donnelly (AmethystFaerie)
  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. 10
    The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (readysetgo)
  14. 10
    Rush Home Road by Lori Lansens (teelgee)
  15. 43
    Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons (rbtanger)
  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.
  19. 11
    Paradise by Toni Morrison (Booksloth)
  20. 67
    The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (leahsimone)

(see all 22 recommendations)

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» See also 387 mentions

English (452)  Norwegian (3)  Catalan (2)  Portuguese (1)  Vietnamese (1)  Swedish (1)  German (1)  Danish (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (463)
Showing 1-5 of 452 (next | show all)
Ok, it's feel-good, but so what? The writing is beautiful, and the plot, full of strong images, unusual enough to make you suspend disbelief. It's larger than life, but uplifting, unless you are really resistant to being uplifted.
  PollyMoore3 | Jul 17, 2014 |
Silly best describes this book.
1. Black woman spits tobacco juice on racist thugs' shoes - silly
2. White teenager runs off with said black woman, no-one on the road is surprised by this - silly
3. They show up at black women bee-keepers who take them in no questions asked,(though this is later explained ), no-one questions this in the town - silly
4. Black male teenager drives around white? farms collecting honey with white female teenager,no-one bats an eye - silly
5. Religous nonsense regarding Mary - silly
6. Ending - silly

Sorry, but I don't understand the appeal of this book, why it's a best seller or why it was made into a film. ( )
  MsStephie | Jul 12, 2014 |
http://www.bookcrossing.com/journal/4524773/

Read during Fall 2006

I was a bit dubious before I started reading but it was fairly enjoyable. That is, until about 50 pages from the end when I really lost patience and it succumbed to Lifetime/Hallmark Movie of the Week stylings. I wasn't buying all the mystical power of womanhood and the bond of mother and daughter, etc. What particularly turned me off was the reaction of Lily when she learned the true story of her mother. She was meant to be 14 and acted about 4 and I had very little sympathy for her during all of her anger and sorrow and really did wish someone would tell her to stop being so self-indulgent. However, it was the final wrap up with T. Ray that did it for me. Way too maudlin and unbelievable to my taste.
  amyem58 | Jul 3, 2014 |
Each month this year, I'm planning to re-read a favorite book, and this was my selection for May. I read this book with my book club about 14 years ago. I remember, even though that was before I was keeping lists, because I was pregnant with my first child. When we gathered for discussion, I was surrounded by women who were excited about the baby that was on the way and who were supporting me as I ventured into unfamiliar territory. In a way, I felt a lot like Lily Owens, the young heroine of this coming-of-age novel, when I first read this book. Perhaps that was why it was a favorite then, but it held up beautifully on the re-read as well.

Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bess tells the story of Lily who lives with her father T. Ray after a tragedy takes her mother's life. Rosaleen, a black woman who worked for T. Ray in the peach orchards, has been brought to the house to take care of Lily, but Rosaleen and Lily get into some trouble when Rosaleen attempts to register to vote. They flee to Tiburon, SC in search of safety and some answers about Lily's mother. There they find three sisters, August, May, and June, who provide Lily and Rosaleen with much more than shelter. Lily learns the art of beekeeping from August and finds support when she needs it most. This is a story about the power of connections, even those connections that seem unlikely. Here's just one passage that let's us inside Lily's head:

"The whole time we worked, I marveled at how mixed up people got when it came to love. I myself, for instance. It seemed like I was now thinking of Zach forty minutes out of every hour, Zach, who was an impossibility. That's what I told myself five hundred times: impossibility. I can tell you this much: the word is a great big log thrown on the fires of love."

This book carries in its pages the experience of the mid-1960s in the south, but the themes are universal. I love the strength that comes from these relationships and the ways that Lily uses that strength to find her own way through life's challenges. ( )
1 vote porch_reader | Jun 10, 2014 |
I wanted to like this book based on all the reviews but found myself "speed reading" many chapters. ( )
  AnnikaBirgitta | Jun 3, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 452 (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.
 
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Epigraph
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.
Dedication
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.
Quotations
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."
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

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...
Haiku summary

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)

Fourteen-year-old Lily and her companion, Rosaleen, an African-American woman who has cared for Lily since her mother's death ten years earlier, flee their home after Rosaleen is victimized by racist police officers, and find a safe haven in Tiburon, South Carolina at the home of three beekeeping sisters, May, June, and August.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 18 descriptions

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