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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

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
19,015None85 (3.91)371
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

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

1960s (85) African American (77) American (75) American South (110) beekeeping (126) bees (228) book club (124) civil rights (233) coming of age (325) contemporary fiction (93) family (218) fiction (1,941) friendship (84) historical fiction (159) honey (75) literature (72) love (60) novel (225) own (104) race (86) race relations (92) racism (272) read (226) South (118) South Carolina (223) southern (129) southern fiction (66) to-read (170) unread (71) women (219)
  1. 351
    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)
    Neale: Both deal with racial issues and are slow moving but enjoyable
  3. 90
    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. 40
    Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff (rbtanger)
  8. 41
    A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly (AmethystFaerie)
  9. 96
    Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells (SimoneA)
    SimoneA: Both well written books about the strength of women and forgiveness.
  10. 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
  11. 20
    Small Island by Andrea Levy (tina1969)
  12. 21
    Bliss by Peter Carey (meela)
  13. 10
    Rush Home Road by Lori Lansens (teelgee)
  14. 43
    Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons (rbtanger)
  15. 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)
  16. 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.
  17. 11
    Paradise by Toni Morrison (Booksloth)
  18. 00
    Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall (Iudita)
  19. 12
    Three Junes by Julia Glass (leahsimone)
  20. 67
    The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (leahsimone)

(see all 21 recommendations)

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» See also 371 mentions

English (439)  Norwegian (3)  Catalan (2)  Portuguese (1)  Vietnamese (1)  Swedish (1)  German (1)  Danish (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (450)
Showing 1-5 of 439 (next | show all)
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this. The narrative voice is very strong. It was an extremely quick read. ( )
  thatotter | Feb 4, 2014 |
Good beginning, slow middle, and good again 3/4 of the way. Lily just wanted to be loved, wanted to know who her mother was, and if her parents ever loved and cared for her at all. The ending was partly heart breaking and partly relieving. It's painful to see anyone go through that. ( )
  nu-bibliophile | Jan 16, 2014 |
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

The Secret Life of Bees will grab you right from the beginning. I fell in love with most of the female characters in this book.
This is a coming of age story about Lily, a 14 year old growing up on a peach farm with an abusive father. Her mother died when she was quite young in an "accidental shooting" when attempting to leave her abusive husband. Lily saw it all and her father has convinced her that she was the one who accidentally shot her mother. We never learn the real truth about this event.
The story takes place at the time of the newly enacted Civil Rights Movement in the mid sixties. Lily and her black housekeeper Rosaleen flee when they are arrested because of Rosaleen pouring snooce juice over the feet of three white men who are harassing them.
In a series of events that can be nothing short of divine intervention Lily and Rosaleen end up in the charming South Carolina home of three sisters, May, June & August. While Rosaleen bonds with May in the kitchen cooking good old fashioned southern dishes Lily works with August learning the art of beekeeping.
Each chapter of The Secret Life of Bees begins with a charming "life of a bee" fact that relates to the chapter that follows. As the story unwinds secrets of a painful past are revealed but simultaneously a new and happy life is created. You will experience some painful endings as well as some happy and hopeful beginnings. I cried & I laughed over this book.

The Secret Life of Bees is about facing our pasts, accepting them and finding the "mother in ourselves" to move ahead with strength & love. It's about friendships that aren't bound by color or society and ultimately about love. As you read this novel by Sue Monk Kidd it will undoubtedly come to hold a special place in your heart as it does in mine.
I highly recommend it. ( )
1 vote rainpebble | Jan 15, 2014 |
What I liked: There were several things I loved about this book.
1. I read this in winter and the book made me warm. Set in sweltering S.C. heat, it helped me forget how cold I was.
2. The Beekeeping aspect was fascinating. I loved how Lily described the bees and their sounds in terms of rhythm and life. The hum of the bees brought me into the story and kept me there.
3. I thought the author did a good job painting the period of racism and brink of social change.
4. The story had tragic elements which made it very interesting.
5. The ending made me smile.

What I didn't like: The characters hold home church-like services and basically worship the Mother Mary/slave statue. At first I thought the book was going toward a Catholic-like faith, but it was instead Idolatry, as I can't remember any mention of faith in Jesus. The characters pray to the Mother Mary statue for power -- an idea that could lead some readers astray if their understanding and faith in Jesus is not solid. ( )
  DawnMHamsher | Jan 9, 2014 |
Good and lovely book. I like this book. ( )
  Sonkku | Dec 20, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 439 (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)

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