Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Little Bee

by Chris Cleave
published: Simon and Schuster 2010 (originally 2008)
pages: 266

 Little Bee, a Nigerian refugee, has just been released from a British immigration detention center where she spent two years of her life.  She has now made it her mission to find the only people she knows on the island, Sarah and Andrew.  Sarah is a well to-do young mother who has a son who won't take off his batman costume.  These two women met once upon a time on a Nigerian beach and now two years later their lives cross again. They will finally have a moment to bring closure to the horrific events that happened that fateful day.

This book was quite a slow read for me.  It took me a very long time to actually get into the story and to care about the characters. Frankly, I ended up not liking most of them anyway.  I'm not sure how people can like some of these characters, though maybe the point is that you're not supposed to like them.  Not all of them were despicable but they were all broken in their own ways, some by their own choices and some by the choices of others.

This book is definitely character driven and I usually like character driven novels, but I didn't connect with any of the characters.  Little Bee is by far my favorite character, to say she is probably the only character I liked in this book, well her and the 4-year-old boy, Charlie.

One of the things I actually liked was the way grief was portrayed in this book.  Each character grieved in their own way, whether is was refusing to take off a batman costume, going to a new country, becoming guilt-ridden over secrets, or pulling away from family.  Grief was palpable throughout the story.  If anything this book shows the reader that there isn't one specific and acceptable way to grieve.  There was ways to grieve and not hurt others, which is ideal, but not always how grief takes form.

I enjoyed the ending of this book as well.  It was very open ended; anything could have happened after we leave the characters.  Most the time I don't like not knowing what's going to happen next, but it fit this book really well.  The lack of closure is a consistent theme through out this book, so I was glad that the book ended the way it did.

This book is very well written, but it just wasn't really my cup of tea.

Stars: 2.5/5 


"Ambitious and fearless...Cleave immerses the reader in the worlds of his characters with an unshakable confidence."
     --THe Guardian (UK)

"Little Bee will blow you away.... Both surprising and inevitable, thoroughly satisfying if also heartrending."
     --The Washington Post

"One of the most vividly memorable and provocative characters in recent contemporary fiction.... Cleave paces the story beautifully, lacing it with wit, compassion, and, even at the darkest moments, a searing ray of hope."
     --The Boston Globe

An Alphabet Soup Challenge 2015 book. 

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