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Little Bee by Chris Cleave

Little Bee

by Chris Cleave

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,401399803 (3.78)307
Title:Little Bee
Authors:Chris Cleave
Info:Anchor Canada (2012), Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Other Hand by Chris Cleave

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    monzrocks: Presents the same intersection/juxtaposition of life in the "first world" vs. life in the "third." Both have great characters.
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    BookshelfMonstrosity: The stories of a impoverished countryside boy and two upper-class sisters are told against the backdrop of the 1960s Biafran War. This book, by one of Nigeria's most famous authors, should appeal to readers interested in Nigeria's history, Nigerian society and the lives of women in Nigeria.… (more)
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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 307 mentions

English (384)  Dutch (7)  Spanish (2)  Finnish (2)  German (2)  Danish (1)  Turkish (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Catalan (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (402)
Showing 1-5 of 384 (next | show all)
Several reviews that I've seen of this book made specific references to enjoying the book less because it didn't live up to the hype. Frankly, I find that ridiculous. I thought the story was heart-breaking, heart-filling, and perfectly capable of standing up on its own. I'm interested in the book itself, not the cover propaganda.

I smiled, I sniffled, and I don't regret the time I spent reading. ( )
  ratastrophe | Nov 11, 2014 |
I'm feeling very conflicted about this book. The writing was original, the main character unique, fascinating and heartbreaking. The story was frustrating at times, the supporting characters fell a little flat for me, and the ending left me very unfulfilled. I would have preferred an ending I didn't have to supply on my own. However, the writing was so good, and there were so many things to think about, seeing the modern world through a refugee's eyes, and trying to understand how Little Bee managed to survive and compartmentalize, and I would recommend this to friends, particularly my book group. I think they will be very divided on this one. ( )
  readaholic12 | Oct 9, 2014 |
Little Bee

its nothing , i just did what any one would do " " Its easier when you are from outside "
" if your face is swollen from the severe beatings of life, smile and pretend to be a fat man "
" Howevere long the moon disappears , some day it must shine again "
"Its a proverb in my country " the dog must be dogs and the wolves must be wolves ; you can say anything as long as you add the former "
The novel's hits are down to the kind people who helped me ; the misses are all mine
  pj100pl | Sep 29, 2014 |
A chance meeting changed the course of four lives forever. Sarah and Andrew were on a vacation in Nigeria; they had gone so they could work on their relationship and their marriage. As they were walking on the beach outside the resort, they were told to go back because it wasn't safe. While they were arguing with the guard, a young Nigerian girl and her sister came out from the bushes, followed by men who were hunting them. Sarah and Andrew had a choice: let the girls be killed, or harm themselves to save them. The choice that was made changed everything. Years later, Little Bee is released from the immigration detention center, and has only one name: Andrew's. She makes her way to his house to find help, and discovers a family in trouble. Their lives become intertwined with Little Bee's in a way that will affect them all forever. I went into this book unsure if I would like it, but in the end, I liked it. I liked the alternating chapters and points of view; we were able to get a more full story by seeing everything from both sides. The book also made me think about refugees and immigration, and how hard it really must be to have to leave your home to save your life, but to not be wanted or welcomed anywhere. ( )
  litgirl29 | Sep 29, 2014 |
To say that the book blurb on this novel is misleading would probably be an understatement. I'm not entirely sure what the publishers were thinking, but "magic" this book is not. Intriguing? Certainly. Thought-provoking? Definitely. Magic? No.

While the writing was lovely - and it was. There were places I re-read simply for the beauty of the language - the story itself was only average. I never quite believed in Sarah's voice - I'm not sure if it was an issue of a male writer not fully inhabiting his female character, or just that Sarah herself didn't buy her own BS - and since half of the novel was written from her perspective, it made those sections difficult.

I found the time-shifting of the narrative a bit confusing at times, not really understanding where each character was in relation to the other. Once we all caught up on the secret "event", it became easier, but there were still places throughout the novel where I felt like I had missed something, somewhere. I felt like the author had some interesting ideas about the different ways people can save each other, but the story ended so abruptly that it didn't seem like he had a chance to flesh these out.

Overall, it was just okay for me. Certain parts were lovely, but in other places I felt like I was really forcing myself to keep slogging on, and that's never a good sign. ( )
  NeedMoreShelves | Sep 14, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 384 (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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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)
For Joseph
First words
Most days I wish I was a British pound coin instead of an African girl.
(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.
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(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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