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Little Bee by Chris Cleave
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Little Bee (edition 2010)

by Chris Cleave

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5,983433697 (3.76)321
Member:karen-s
Title:Little Bee
Authors:Chris Cleave
Info:Simon & Schuster (2010), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Read books
Rating:***
Tags:fiction, book club Elements, 2012

Work details

The Other Hand by Chris Cleave

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    dsc73277: "Hearts and Minds" and "Little Bee" have been two of the most compelling books I have read this year. Both deal sympathetically with the experience of migrants to Britain. At times they make for difficult reading, reminding one as they do of how difficult some people's lives are, however, ultimately they are not devoid of hope.… (more)
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» See also 321 mentions

English (417)  Dutch (7)  Spanish (2)  German (2)  Finnish (2)  Turkish (1)  Danish (1)  Norwegian (1)  Swedish (1)  Catalan (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  All languages (436)
Showing 1-5 of 417 (next | show all)
I suppose I can see the merit of the story, but I really hated the characters. It's bad when you actually want to reach into a book and smack someone.
And the boy's "cute" way of speaking drove me insane. They might get their pronouns wrong a lot, but even a slow little kid gets it right sometimes. ( )
  imahorcrux | Jun 22, 2016 |
A beautiful story about humanity and honesty. Little Bee is a little girl from Nigeria that kept secrets of a two journalist couple from England. Both of them were just thinking of saving each other, although a lot came between the way. Rather depressing but beautifully written. ( )
  parvita | Jun 12, 2016 |
I don't know if I have the words to fully describe the beauty of this story.

Each character's voice comes across so clearly. I can hear them each speaking every word.

I also like the brevity of the story: Chris Cleave tells a story that spans several years and two continents in less than 300 pages. Each word counts. That's a remarkable skill.

There is also a LOT of humor in this book. For a story about oil wars, unspeakable violence, beaurocratic hells, & suicides, this is another remarkable skill. Being able to laugh is a basic human survival skill, and we all need it, in England and in Nigeria.

And there is hope. Somehow in the midst of all the horror and loss, there is hope and humanity.

It's a tough read, but it's worth it. ( )
  LauraCerone | May 26, 2016 |
Love, love Little Bee's voice and little Batman. Eye opening and thought provoking book that reads like a memoir on a Nigerian girl's heartbreak in her own country and then detention / naturalization efforts in the UK. The strength of the story is the transcendental power of the acts of love by and for Little Bee and how she inadvertently awakens Sara from her selfishness. Many times I sigh and shake my head at best-sellers, but not this one. This one I get -- don't miss it. ( )
  sydsavvy | Apr 8, 2016 |
I liked it very much until the end, which felt like Cleave had a hard deadline he had to meet. The characters weren't done with their story,or so it seemed to me. ( )
  ChrisNewton | Mar 18, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 417 (next | show all)
While the pretext of “Little Bee” initially seems contrived — two strangers, a British woman and a Nigerian girl, meet on a lonely African beach and become inextricably bound through the horror imprinted on their encounter — its impact is hardly shallow. Rather than focusing on postcolonial guilt or African angst, Cleave uses his emotionally charged narrative to challenge his readers’ conceptions of civility, of ethical choice.
 
"Little Bee" is the best kind of political novel: You're almost entirely unaware of its politics because the book doesn't deal in abstractions but in human beings.
 
Book clubs in search of the next "Kite Runner" need look no further than this astonishing, flawless novel about what happens when ordinary, mundane Western lives are thrown into stark contrast against the terrifying realities of war-torn Africa.
 
Cleave has a sharp cinematic eye, but the plot is undermined by weak motivations and coincidences.
added by Shortride | editPublishers Weekly (Nov 10, 2008)
 
The taut spring of Cleave's intricate plot is a sequence of unpalatable moral decisions that cleverly bind life-choices to the guilty freight of conscience. But this novel's great strength is the squeamishly raw candour of its protagonists.
 

» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Chris Cleaveprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Flosnik, AnneNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Britain is proud of its tradition of providing a safe haven for people fleeting [sic] persecution and conflict. - From Life in the United Kingdom: A Journey to Citizenship (UK Home Office, 2005)
Britain is proud of its tradition of providing a safe haven for people fleeting [sic] persecution and conflict. ----- from Life in the United Kingdom: A Journey to Citizenship (UK Home Office, 2005)
Dedication
For Joseph
First words
Most days I wish I was a British pound coin instead of an African girl.
Quotations
(Little Bee, p.13/14:) "...and I ask you right here please to agree with me that a scar is never ugly. That's what the scar makers want us to think. But you and I, we must make an agreement to defy them. We must see all scars as beauty (...) Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, "I survived".
Through the lobby of the Home Office building, the public sector shuffled past in its scuffed shoes, balancing its morning coffee on cardboard carry trays. The women bulged out of M&S trouser suits, wattles wobbling and bangles clacking. The men seemed limp and hypoxic--half-garroted by their ties. Everyone stooped, or scuttled, or nervously ticked. They carried themselves like weather presenters preparing to lower expectations for the bank-holiday weekend.
We knew what we had: we had nothing. Your world and our world had come to this understanding. Even the missionaries had boarded up their mission. They left us with the holy books that were not worth the expense of shipping back to your country. In our village our only Bible had all of its pages missing after the forty-sixth verse of the twenty-seventh chapter of Matthew, so that the end of our religion, as far as any of us knew, was My God, my god, why hast thous forsaken me? We understood that this was the end of the story. That is how we lived, happily and without hope. I was very young then, and I did not miss having a future because I did not know I was entitled to one.
Compromise, eh? Isn't it sad, growing up? You start off like my Charlie. You start off thinking you can kill all the baddies and save the world. Then you get a little bit older, maybe Little Bee's age, and you realize that some of the world's badness is inside you, that maybe you're a part of it. And then you get a little bit older still, and a bit more comfortable, and you start wondering whether that badness you've seen in yourself is really all that bad at all. You start talking about ten percent.
There were people in that crowd, and strolling along the walkway, from all of the different colors and nationalities of the earth. There were more races even than I recognized from the detention center. I stood with my back against the railings and my mouth open and I watched them walking past, more and more of them. And then I realized it. I said to myself, Little Bee, there is no them. This endless procession of people, walking along beside this great river, these people are you.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
The Other Hand (UK) / Little Bee (US)
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Book description
Publisher Comments:
We don't want to tell you too much about this book!

It is a truly special story and we don't want to spoil it.

Nevertheless, you need to know something, so we will just say this:

It is extremely funny, but the African beach scene is horrific.

The story starts there, but the book doesn't.

And it's what happens afterward that is most important.

Once you have read it, you'll want to tell everyone about it. When you do, please don't tell them what happens either. The magic is in how it unfolds.
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A haunting novel about the tenuous friendship that blooms between two disparate strangers--one an illegal Nigerian refugee, the other a recent widow from suburban London.

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