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The Secret Life of Bees (2002)

by Sue Monk Kidd

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
23,76255091 (3.91)495
During the summer of 1964 in rural South Carolina, a young girl is given a home by three black, beekeeping sisters. As she enters their mesmerizing secret world of bees and honey, she discovers a place where she can find the single thing her heart longs for most.
  1. 412
    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. 241
    The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Alliebadger, Alie, Neale, readysetgo)
    Neale: Both deal with racial issues and are slow moving but enjoyable
  3. 130
    Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg (VictoriaPL)
  4. 111
    Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen (lasperschlager)
  5. 90
    White Oleander by Janet Fitch (leahsimone)
  6. 70
    Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns (ddelmoni)
  7. 116
    Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells (SimoneA)
    SimoneA: Both well written books about the strength of women and forgiveness.
  8. 61
    A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly (AmethystFaerie)
  9. 40
    Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff (rbtanger)
  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. 53
    Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons (rbtanger)
  13. 20
    The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (readysetgo)
  14. 87
    The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (leahsimone)
  15. 10
    Rush Home Road by Lori Lansens (teelgee)
  16. 21
    Bliss by Peter Carey (meela)
  17. 00
    Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall (Iudita, BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Set in the American South during the 1960s, these moving coming-of-age stories star motherless white girls whose strong bonds with older African-American women result in dangerous yet eye-opening journeys that unfold against the backdrop of the burgeoning civil rights movement.… (more)
  18. 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)
  19. 11
    Paradise by Toni Morrison (Booksloth)
  20. 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.

(see all 22 recommendations)


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» See also 495 mentions

English (535)  Norwegian (3)  Catalan (2)  Portuguese (1)  Vietnamese (1)  Swedish (1)  German (1)  Danish (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (546)
Showing 1-5 of 535 (next | show all)
I really disliked it. ( )
  Chrissylou62 | Aug 1, 2020 |
The best description for this book/series in 10 words or less:
"Privileged girl opens her eyes outside of her little bubble."

This truly shows the racism and bias of a white-dominated world during the Civil Rights Movement. The Civil Rights Movement is seen through Rosaleen who wanted to vote, but it is not about the right to vote. The theme is about coming-of-age and going beyond boundaries of color.

The character development was done very well. It was very distinguished each Boatwright sister even though there were three present and another mentioned. I really thought it was creative that the Boatwright sisters were named after spring ad summer months.

Lily's character was humorous as she is learning about the real world that she was kept from when she was living her father. I felt that Lily calling her father T. Ray instead of "Daddy," "Father," or "Dad" really exemplified their relationship. The mystery of Lily's mother's death was very intriguing and made you want to read more until you get to the end.

The romantic relationships in this book did not take over the book as many books do. It simply added another layer to the book. The only other thing that bothered me was that there was a lack of development between the friendship and romantic relationship between Zachary Taylor and Lily.

I do not have much to complain about other than the fact that it was a little hard to get into the book since it was a little slow.

Refer to my blog for a different view of this review:

Check out other books in my personal library for reviews and recommendations:
https://literarymary.libib.com/ ( )
  Marilyn95 | Jun 30, 2020 |
This was... weird. I don't think it was a bad book and it had some of my favorite plot elements (found families/families of choice, discussions of racial identity, feminism) but somehow it didn't really click for me. ( )
  j_tuffi | May 30, 2020 |
Imagine if The Legend of Bagger Vance swapped out Matt Damon for a cute little girl and replaced Will Smith with three honey-making sisters.

Most people would think that's a recipe for a pretty bad book, but I liked The Legend of Bagger Vance. I will say, though, that the scene in which a large group of women rub honey all over a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary in a sexually aggressive manner made me wish for the memory thing from Men in Black. ( )
  bgramman | May 9, 2020 |
In The Secret Life of Bees, a young girl named Lily runs away from her abusive father. She goes to find the town her mom used to live in, and she begins to live with a local beekeeper named August Boatwright. She lives in a house with all African American women (August and her sisters), learns how to be a beekeeper, and she gets to see the racial prejudices her friends deal with every day. This book would be great in a social studies or ELA classroom. For instruction, I would use this book to address the civil rights era, and to help students understand forgiveness, just as Lily had to forgive herself and others. ( )
  Regan521 | Apr 3, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 535 (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.

» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kidd, Sue Monkprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Frezza Pavese, PaolaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Paredes, LauraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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.
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.
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."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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...
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Average: (3.91)
0.5 13
1 111
1.5 23
2 380
2.5 83
3 1451
3.5 337
4 2663
4.5 273
5 2128

HighBridge Audio

An edition of this book was published by HighBridge Audio.

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An edition of this book was published by HighBridge.

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