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The Secret Life of Bees (2002)

by Sue Monk Kidd

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
24,52855396 (3.91)503
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 503 mentions

English (540)  Norwegian (3)  Catalan (2)  Portuguese (1)  Vietnamese (1)  Swedish (1)  German (1)  Danish (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (551)
Showing 1-5 of 540 (next | show all)
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 |
Adult fiction. Follows 14-year-old Lily as she learns about her deceased mother in South Carolina during the turbulent months after the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Characters are memorable and very likeable. ( )
  reader1009 | Jul 3, 2021 |
Great book about a fourteen-year-old girl with a secret and a yearning who with her family housekeeper finds love and contentment with a trio of black beekeeping sisters in racially-charged 1964 South Carolina.
  Jimbookbuff1963 | Jun 5, 2021 |
I wish I could give this 3.5 stars. It is better than a lot of "3 star" books but I don't know if I loved it enough for 4. Well written, lovely story. Sometimes it was just a bit overdone for me... ( )
  mcsp | Jan 25, 2021 |
I think this was the first book I put on my 'to read' list and by the time I had a copy in my hand I thought it was a book about bee-keeping! It's a lovely book. Not quite sure how she manages to make it such a warm and happy book considering the terrible times and the struggles of the civil rights movement. Had to go listen again to Desert Island Discs interviewing Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative and the terror that people lived with. Still it isn't a bad thing to engage with the warmth of human kindness once in a while. And there was quite a lot about bees.... On the whole I'd rather it hadn't been set when and where it was - but it was well written and otherwise a pleasure to read. ( )
  Ma_Washigeri | Jan 23, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 540 (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)

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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HighBridge Audio

An edition of this book was published by HighBridge Audio.

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HighBridge

An edition of this book was published by HighBridge.

» Publisher information page

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