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The Secret Life of Bees (2002)

by Sue Monk Kidd

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
24,56855898 (3.91)505
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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English (544)  Norwegian (3)  Catalan (2)  Portuguese (1)  Vietnamese (1)  Swedish (1)  German (1)  Danish (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (555)
Showing 1-5 of 544 (next | show all)
Lily Owens: Accidental murderer. Unloveable.
Rosealeen: jail escapee.
This book: not to bad considering it was for school.

Lily accidentally killed her mom when she was 4. Her parents were arguing and the mom pulled out a gun. Little Lily picked it up and it went off. 10 years later her father tells her that her mother never loved her and she left them. the day the mom died she had come back to get her stuff, that's it. Lily sets off to find the truth about her past by going to Tiburon, SC. A town that was scrawled on the back of her mother's picture of the Black Madonna. Rosaleen is her housekeeper that Lily breaks out of jail. Lily ends up with the calendar sisters, Zach, and the Daughter's of Mary. There she learns about herself, her past, and life. At the end she must gather up her courage to oppose T.Ray (her father) and stand up for what she wants. ( )
  Nikki_Sojkowski | Aug 26, 2021 |
Some memorable parts but overall not something I personally enjoyed. // Saw the movie also which has overlaid many of my memories of the book.

"The greatest truth that Lily learns from the bees is that without a queen, the hive will die. Without a mother - her own queen - Lily is dying inside, and she cannot come alive until she finds her new queen in Tiburon. We watch as Lily comes of age, learning hard lessons and harder truths. We watch as she learns the truth that so few of her time and place seemed to know; the truth that it is friendship and caring and love that bind people together, not the color of their skin."

"Some things don’t matter, like the color of a house. How big is that in the whole scheme of life. But lifting a persons heart, that matters. For example the “pink” house, it lifts May’s heart." ( )
  Seayla2020 | Aug 22, 2021 |
This is a story of abandonment, kindness, wisdom and love surrounding the unlikely story of Lily Owens. Lily’s mother Deborah dies from an accidental gunshot wound when she is four. She is raised by her mean peach farming father T Ray and his black housekeeper Rosaleen. After 10 years of of neglect and physical abuse, Lily and Rosaleen run away and end up in Tiburon, South Carolina where August Boatwright a local beekeeper and her two sisters welcome them into their home.
The time is 1964 and the Civil Rights movement is just starting to take off. There are wonderful scenes involving the Boatright sisters, the bees, the Daughters of Mary and local law enforcement people. The coincidences involving Lily’s mother lacked credence but overall it’s a wonderful tale, the characters are so well developed and the outcome is well done. ( )
  MaggieFlo | Aug 12, 2021 |
In 1960s South Carolina, a white girl runs away from her physically and emotionally abusive father and is taken in by three black sisters who are beekeepers and have thriving a honey and beeswax business.

There were a couple of minor things which bothered me far more than they should have done but which I won't mention here as they were probably my issues rather than the book's. Something which I did think was a flaw was the heavy foreshadowing at certain points which was unnecessary because I was already feeling this isn't going to end well. Apart from that, some interesting descriptions of beekeeping and an intriguing religious atmosphere in a book which I'm going to let percolate in the back of mind for a while. ( )
  Robertgreaves | Aug 8, 2021 |
A honey sweet story of 14-year old Lily, who lives with her nasty father and a black nanny because her mother is dead. Set in the South in the tumultuous 60's, the black nanny is on her way to register to vote when she stupidly picks a fight with the town's white racists, ending up first in jail and then the hospital when she refuses to apologize. Lily and she run away, and end up on a honey farm with three sisters named May, July and August Boatwright. Lily is adopted by the sisters and their unorthodox church friends, who provide the mothering for which she yearns. I liked the book, but Lily's character waffles between mature/immature and only one or two characters object to an incredible living arrangement in an era and state when this would never have been allowed. ( )
  skipstern | Jul 11, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 544 (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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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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Wikipedia in English (1)

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.

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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)
0.5 13
1 115
1.5 23
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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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