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Initial Thoughts: By now, most people have either seen the movie adaptation or read the book. It is one of those books that readers say “oh yeah, I read that a long time ago.” There is something about The Secret Life of Bees that contains a book club vibe to it. If you’ve read this book as part of a book club, let me know. Also, if you’re in a book club, I am super jealous as the only book clubs around my area are for seniors.

Knowing can be a curse on a person’s life. I’d traded in a pack of lies for a pack of truth, and I didn’t know which one was heavier. Which one took the most strength to carry around? It was a ridiculous question, though, because once you know the truth, you can’t ever go back and pick up your suitcase of lies. Heavier or not, the truth is yours now.

The Secret Life of Bees by: Sue Monk Kidd

Summary

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 women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.

The Review

So, I ended up watching the movie adaptation long before I read the book. Actually, it was in watching the movie that I ended up wanting to read the book.

When she was young, Lily Owens’ mother died after a tragic incident. Now, at fourteen, she lives with her abusive father T. Ray and her housekeeper Rosaleen. When Rosaleen gets in trouble with three racists and is thrown in jail, Lily decides to break Rosaleen out of jail and escape to Tiburton, South Carolina after finding the name etched on a statue of Mary. In Tiburton, Lily and Rosaleen meet the Boatwrights – three unmarried sisters who have a honey business. As Lily gets to know the sisters, secrets from her mother’s past begin to be revealed.

There was something about this book that is endearing and special. Perhaps it is because of the focus on interactions between women. Perhaps it is because of Lily’s journey into finding her identity and reconciling her past trauma. Either way, it is a fantastic book with memorable characters. I absolutely loved this story and read it within a day. In spite of knowing all the twists and turns (I did watch the movie first, after all), it did not stop me from enjoying this book. It was sort of like revisiting the movie in a new lens. Of course, the book has more detail than the movie and presents just as much, if not more, emotion.

I would highly recommend this book for a book circle or a book club. It is one of those books that is light enough for discussion, but with topics that touch nearly everyone.

Final Rating:

About the Book

Title: The Secret Life of Bees

Author: Sue Monk Kidd

Year Published: 2001

Pages: 302

Genres & Subjects: Fiction, historical fiction, southern United States

Until Next Time,

Alice

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