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The Secret Life of Bees (2002)

by Sue Monk Kidd

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
26,735584107 (3.91)529
Fiction. Literature. HTML:The multi-million bestselling novel about a young girl's journey towards healing and the transforming power of love, from the award-winning author of The Invention of Wings and The Book of Longings
Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily's fierce-hearted Black "stand-in mother," Rosaleen, insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily decides to spring them both free. They escape to Tiburon, South Carolina‚??a town that holds the secret to her mother's past. Taken in by an eccentric trio of Black beekeeping sisters, Lily is introduced to their mesmerizing world of bees and honey, and the Black Madonna. This is a remarkable novel about divine female power, a story that women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to co… (more)
  1. 422
    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. 61
    A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly (AmethystFaerie)
  8. 116
    Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells (SimoneA)
    SimoneA: Both well written books about the strength of women and forgiveness.
  9. 40
    Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff (rbtanger)
  10. 30
    The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (readysetgo)
  11. 53
    Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons (rbtanger)
  12. 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
  13. 20
    Small Island by Andrea Levy (tina1969)
  14. 21
    Bliss by Peter Carey (meela)
  15. 87
    The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (leahsimone)
  16. 10
    Rush Home Road by Lori Lansens (teelgee)
  17. 11
    Paradise by Toni Morrison (Booksloth)
  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. 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.
  20. 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)

(see all 22 recommendations)

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» See also 529 mentions

English (567)  Norwegian (3)  Spanish (2)  Catalan (2)  Danish (1)  German (1)  Vietnamese (1)  Swedish (1)  Portuguese (1)  All languages (579)
Showing 1-5 of 567 (next | show all)
I had a hard time getting into this one - I found myself just not caring about the characters much at the beginning. After the first 50 to 100 pages it did start to pick up and I enjoyed the remainder of the book. ( )
  Fatula | Sep 25, 2023 |
I was a little surprised that I enjoyed this one. It is pretty rare for me to like a book I have to read for English class. I really did enjoy it though.
There were a few moments that dragged on a little bit, but over all the story was engaging and interesting.
I enjoyed the sisterhood aspect. Most books focus on the romance, not the friendships.
I highly recommend reading this book. ( )
  CaitlinDaugherty | Aug 28, 2023 |
The story begins in Sylvan, South Carolina, in 1964, at the height of racial tensions as blacks are finally legalized to vote. Lily Owens, 14 years old, is played by Dakota Fanning who does an outsounding job in her performance in the movie. (She is who I pictured while reading this book, which did not stray much from the movie at all, so may have had big part in high star rating...I'm not sure now. I LOVED THE MOVIE!) Her parents had a brutal marriage that drove her mom into great depression and she left her with her abusive father for three months when she was only 4 years old. When she recovered enough to care for Lily, she returned to take her away with her to Tiburon. But, when her mother returned and her father began throwing her around again and screaming and hollering, her mother grabbed the gun. T-Ray knocked it out of her hand where it fell to the floor. Lily picked it up and accidentally shot and killed her mother. After 14 years of abuse, Lily and her black nanny ran away to Tiburon, a town written on back of the little black virgin Mary wooden statue she had found in the attic that once belonged to her mother.

This is a coming of age story about Lily trying to find peace and her place in life. The secret lives of bees parallel her own life full of secrets as she finds refuge with the three black Boatwright sisters, August, June, and May, in the big pink pepto-bismol honey house in Tiburon. This divine intervention of God, led her to this house which she later learned, August, the oldest of the sisters, had been her own mother's nanny growing up.

Sue Monk Kidd is one of those unusually gifted writers, and I will be looking into reading more from her.
----------
THE MOVIE -
The Secret Life of Bees (2008) - One of my favorite movies of all time. Dakota Fanning does an outstanding job as Lily. In fact, she had me bawling when she has a breakdown as she approaches the black virgin Mary statue and places her hand over the red heart. The book did not draw this emotion from me. Queen Latifa, who I usually don't like as an actress, was perfect for her part as August, full of patience, independent, calm, loving, and nonjudgemental...a caregiver to anyone in need. Alicia Keyes played June. Just a super great cast of actors and actresses.

( )
  MissysBookshelf | Aug 27, 2023 |
What a wonderful read - colorful, interesting, compelling and moving. Highly recommend to any reader. ( )
  AmandaPelon | Aug 26, 2023 |
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd is a unique, historical fiction that will take you back in time and allow you to learn about bees.

This book was weird for me. I would go a few chapters and be totally immersed and obsessed with it, and then a few more chapters I'd be bored, sad or just uninterested. I'm not sure why either. Sue's writing is lovely and can transport you away. I feel like the problem with this book is that it's a bit of a coming of age story mixed with historical fiction mixed with a potential YA romance. There were times the book drifted away from a story of a girl learning about her past and herself to a bit of a wannabe romance. That little part stood out to me because it felt like it didn't belong. It took me out of the story.

I really wanted to read a historical fiction book and people kept talking about it, so I grabbed this one. I also heard it was a movie so I figured, read the book first? Why not?

The best parts about this book tends to be about the bees or May, June and August. I was intrigued by their characters and was really hurt by some of the endings for them. Those women were unique and had an interesting story to tell. There's a part of me that wanted the girl's tale and the women's tales separate. There was just too much going on and too many stories that needed to be told.

I think this book is going to be really niche for some readers. Some people will love it and some people will absolutely hate it. There is charm there, but you need to like certain forms of writing to really dig it. I like fast paced books with lots of meaning and not as much random. This book didn't fit my normal read. I'm glad I read it because I do think it was a good story with lots of cool parts, but it just wasn't a good fit for me! Hopefully the next reader who picks up my copy will enjoy it!

Two out of five stars. ( )
  Briars_Reviews | Aug 4, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 567 (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 (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kidd, Sue Monkprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Arsuaga, CristinaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Frezza Pavese, PaolaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lamia, JennaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Paredes, LauraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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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Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Fiction. Literature. HTML:The multi-million bestselling novel about a young girl's journey towards healing and the transforming power of love, from the award-winning author of The Invention of Wings and The Book of Longings
Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily's fierce-hearted Black "stand-in mother," Rosaleen, insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily decides to spring them both free. They escape to Tiburon, South Carolina‚??a town that holds the secret to her mother's past. Taken in by an eccentric trio of Black beekeeping sisters, Lily is introduced to their mesmerizing world of bees and honey, and the Black Madonna. This is a remarkable novel about divine female power, a story that women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to co

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Book description
Great story about a young girl's journey to discover her mother and herself. Southern tone.
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)
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