Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Secret Life of Bees

Title: The Secret Life of Bees
Author: Sue Monk Kidd
Date Finished: November 24, 2008
Pags: 336

I know that this book was recently made into a movie, but I have this thing about trying not to see movies until I have read the book. This has kept me from seeing some movies that I really want to see, but I have just found over time that I enjoy the book more if I allow my mind to create the characters, instead of seeing whomever was cast in that particular role. Since I am trying to cut down my book buying, I borrowed this book from a friend and could not put it down.

The story of Lily is a very powerful one. Granted she's only fourteen, and how much can a fourteen year old really know about life... but her courage and determination is so powerful and motivating, and you just want to wrap her up in a hug and tell her that everything will be okay. The images she has of her mothers last day on earth, just break my heart. No really understanding what happened, but knowing there is a chance she was the one holding the gun eats at her as she gets older. She refers to her father as T. Ray instead of "Dad, Daddy, or Father," and this holds a great deal of significance. She does not see him as a father figure, just someone who is there, that punishes her and is always yelling at her.

Her friendship and love for Rosaleen allows her the courage to do crazy things, like break Rosaleen out of jail to keep her from being killed by the white man whose shoes she spit on. Sue Monk Kidd does a wonderful job of showing how segregated the whites and blacks were during this time period. Even though blacks were given the right to vote, it did not stop whites from protesting and doing anything in their power to keep them from registering. What really pushed Lily over the edge was her father telling her that her mother never really loved her, and that she was running away from her, which causes Lily to run away from him. On her way out of town she heists Rosaleen from the jail and they set off to Tiburon, South Carolina. What significance this town holds is yet to be known, but Lily found it on the back of a picture of a Black Madonna with her mother's items she keeps hidden in the pasture.

Upon arrival in Tiburon, Lily enters a store to buy some food and sees that very same Black Madonna on a bottle of honey. After inquiring about it from the store owner, Lily and Rosaleen head off towards the pink house in town that is the residence of May, June and August Boatwright. The "calendar sisters" take Lily and Roasleen in with very few questions and the story begins to unfold. You get the impression that August knows Lily is lying to her about having no family and heading to Virginia to stay with an aunt, but she lets her open up in her own time.

Lily becomes friends with Zach, who helps August with the bees. They struggle with their feelings for each other and the feelings that soceity says they shouldn't have. Him being a black man and her being a white woman is frowned upon. Both of them realize this and have several talks about it, but Zach wants to be a lawyer when he grows up and he promises Lily that when he's made a palce for himself and they have worked through this color issue, they will be together. Watching their relationship blossom makes for a beautiful love story. Being there for each other as their story unfolds is a true testament to friendship outside of skin pigment.

I loved this book and feel like it really had a big impact on me as I was reading it. I felt for the characters and the tragedies they experienced along the way. I'm not sure how much people remember from their younger days, and how unanswered questions can haunt someone as they get older. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a story about friendship, compassion, and the path to finding the truth.

I cannot wait to see the movie and have heard some really great things about it. Like most books that become movies, I'm sure there will be things that are left out, but I know this story will stay with me for a while. It has also made me a little more interested in bees.



michellekae said...

In the beginning of the book when Lily is on her knees on the grits, and she feels as though her mother was wrapping her arms around her was so touching to me. Sue Monk Kidd made the feelings so real, I too wanted to wrap my arms around her myself and show her a mothers love. Great review. The movie is good too. Dakota Fanning is so amazing sometimes...

Laura said...

I think I'm one of the few people not on the Secret Life of Bees bandwagon. I somewhat liked the book, but I didn't lllooovvve it like pretty much everyone else. But--I'm still interested in seeing the movie. You'll have to let me know what you think!