• Busy Brunette

Book Review: The Secret Life of Bees

Author: Sue Monk Kidd

Published: 2003

Publisher: Penguin Books

Number of Pages: 318

My Rating: 4

Summary from GoodReads.com:

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.

Do you ever find a book that just makes you all warm and fuzzy inside when you read it? Well, The Secret Life of Bees gave me those exact feelings.

This is definitely a coming-of-age tale in a sense that it is about a young girl, Lily, who lives on a peach farm in the deep South during the height of desegregation. We quickly find out that Lily is motherless, for reasons she will explain to you, and she begins the story living with her, I’ll say it, bigot of a father who treats her horribly and abuses her. She feels like something is missing from her life, namely her lack of a mother, but yet she knows nothing about her as she died when she was a little girl. She decides she wants to go searching for the answers that she will never get from her father.

A situation happens in town when her black housekeeper, Rosaleen, sticks up for herself in front of the biggest racists in town and gets arrested as a result. Lily knows that she can’t let Rosaleen stay in jail, and she devises a plan to get her out of there. They make their way to the town of Tiburon, South Carolina, where they stay with three black, beekeeping sisters. Was it a coincidence they ended up there? Or had Lily planned it all along?

They call themselves the month sisters, May, June, and August, and they invite Rosaleen and Lily to stay with them for awhile. I loved the way Kidd described the sisters and their home, instantly creating a feeling of comfort that resonated in Lily’s heart as well as in my mind. I felt like she did a great job describing the feeling of the Southern scenery as well as the heat; I could almost feel the sweat running down my back as I read certain pages. August, her sisters, and their friends provide Lily with the feeling of family she was looking for, but you will have to read to find out if she ever finds out the truth about her mother.

While they say blood is thicker than water, at times it is the family we find and choose for ourself that is there for us the most. The beekeeping sisters prove to be the best family that Lily could have hoped for. And I hope they will give you the warmth and happiness they gave me.

-Busy Brunette

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