The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Lily Owens bears a heavy burden. She lost her mother when she was a four year old child. Worse, she was responsible for her mother’s death. Even worse, her father is a bitter abusive man who makes her life living hell.
Their maid, Rosaleen, is a surrogate mother to her and the only bright spot in Lily’s life. A sequence of events leads Lily and Rosaleen to run away from home. Lily had discovered a picture of black Mary in a box that belonged to her mother with the name of a place Tiburon written on the back.
Hungry for some information about her mother, Lily wants to follow this lead. In Tiburon a similar picture on the bottle of honey leads Lily to the house of August Boatwright, who runs a bee farm.
Right then Lily knows that the answers she is looking for are to be found here. She is taken in by August to help with the beekeeping in exchange for a stay.
The novel is set in the year 1964 when the times were tumultuous for people of color. It is in such times that Lily chooses to live with a family of black women.
Despite the number of problems that Lily faces, the novel does not become depressing. It always holds out hope. It also manages to read like a thriller - what will Lily do next? - the question keeps us turning pages. We are charmed by the story of a deeply humane person, August Boatwright, who is fiercely independent, affectionate and inclusive.
This is a novel with a heart that draws the reader in and inspires us to be humane and forgiving.
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