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Little Bee by Chris Cleave
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Little Bee (edition 2011)

by Chris Cleave

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5,587412770 (3.77)311
Member:Sunshine46
Title:Little Bee
Authors:Chris Cleave
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Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
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Little Bee by Chris Cleave

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» See also 311 mentions

English (398)  Dutch (7)  Spanish (2)  Finnish (2)  German (2)  Danish (1)  Turkish (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Catalan (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (416)
Showing 1-5 of 398 (next | show all)
The front flap of this book, where you usually get a brief synopsis of the story, starts with, "We don't want to tell you what happens in this book. It is a truly special story and we don't want to spoil it." It goes on to admonish the reader not to tell others about the book, only tell them to read it. After reading the book, I must say I would strongly recommend it. I won't tell you much about the story, but I will say that I read 200 pages of it in one sitting. It is the story of a Nigerian refugee in England, but that description does not do it justice. A quote that is not a spoiler: "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." ( )
  TheresaCIncinnati | Aug 17, 2015 |
I wanted to wait until Becky finished reading this before I posted my review, but now I kind of forget everything I would have said. I enjoyed the book for the most part, but I agree with a lot of what Becky wrote. Some of it just seemed unrealistic and a little forced or something, but i can't really remember. ( )
  klburnside | Aug 11, 2015 |
Not a mystery in the normal sense of the word but the book keeps one in suspense as to what happened before and what will happen. A touching drama with multitude of quotable insights some even humorous while dealing with serious realities of life and death.
  snash | Aug 2, 2015 |
Little Bee is the name of a young Nigerian refugee to Great Britain. After spending two years in a refugee complex she and three friends are released and she goes to find the only people she knows in England. Arriving on their doorstep unannounced brings a narrative of a flood of memories from both sides. I enjoyed this book very much. It has a little of the flavour of KITE RUNNER with the overwhelming "you can be good again" moral. Personally ... I fell in love with little "Batman". (You'll have to read it to find out).
( )
  ChristineEllei | Jul 14, 2015 |
What an unbelievable might-as-well-be-true story that probably occurs all over the planet while we enjoy our freedoms. The eloquence and clarity in both voices is breathtaking. Cleave achieves the hard task of not overlapping the narratives of two characters telling the same story. That in itself is astonishing. More astonishing is the stark contrast between the human capacities for cruetly and nobility. Another incredible trick up the writer's sleeve is the tossing off of a particular writing convention: the long-held notion that you must introduce all elements of a scene at the reader's introduction to it. He tosses that out the window, and by constantly shocking the reader with surprises - of plot details, human frailties, relationship complexities - the book becomes almost unbearably suspenseful. As an aside, but worth noting, is the book's impeccable editing. I was still ruminating on the incredible book, when this story, revealed at the end via an interview with the writer, stopped me cold, and I can't yet get it out of my head. A man in this world did this for his son:

9. In doing research for the book, did you come across any facts or stories of particular importance to you that did not make it into the final draft? Would you share some with us?

Yes, here’s the true story that inspired me to write “Little Bee”. In 2001 an Angolan man called Manuel Bravo fled to England and claimed asylum on the grounds that he and his family would be persecuted and killed if they were returned to Angola. He lived in a state of uncertainty for four years pending a decision on his application. Then, without warning, in September 2005 Manuel Bravo and his 13-year-old son were seized in a dawn raid and interned at an Immigration Removal Centre in southern England. They were told that they would be forcibly deported to Angola the next morning. That night, Manuel Bravo took his own life by hanging himself in a stairwell. His son was awoken in his cell and told the news. What had happened was that Manuel Bravo, aware of a rule under which unaccompanied minors cannot be deported from the UK, had taken his own life in order to save the life of his son. His last words to his child were: “Be brave. Work hard. Do well at school.” ( )
  MartinBodek | Jun 11, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 398 (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)
Publisher's editors
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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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