“This is fairly well-written in a line-by-line sense but never engaged me. I kept making comparisons in my mind to similar books and found it wanting, and as pages passed this felt more and more contrived and implausible, too many questions piled up.
This is the first person story of Lily Owen, a fourteen-year-old white girl in 1964 South Carolina, just as the landmark Civil Rights bill has passed. Lily's black housekeeper and "stand-in mother" Rosaleen goes into town to register to vote. When three racist thugs hurl racial epithets at her, she taunts them with that fact, tells them she just stole fans from the church, and spits chewed tobacco over their shoes--inciting them to assault her and causing her arrest. (If this behavior is typical, it amazes me Rosaleen survived to reach adulthood. If it isn't, Kidd sure didn't do anything to indicate that or explain why Rosaleen acted that way.) Lily breaks her out and she and Rosaleen flee to a nearby town and are taken in by three black sister beekeepers.
The initial incident is supposed to happen in a small town of 3,100 people and that's what caused me no end of questions. Civil Rights leader Medgar Evers had been assassinated the year before and Freedom Riders Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner just the month before. Rosaleen had said she was going to a black church to be registered--an event planned for that day. So, a black woman is arrested that day involving a racial incident. No one in the church, her friends, her family learns what happened and goes to help her? The police who arrested her don't pursue her after she escapes? A fourteen year old girl runs away with her. Okay, the novel paints her father as neglectful and uncaring. Still, no one does anything? No neighbors or extended family at all? Neither Rosaleen or Lily worry that with her already charged with assault that aiding and abetting a minor running from home won't bite her? The black sisters take them in even though they're unknown to them and the eldest senses Lily's story about why they're there is a flagrant lie? In 1964 South Carolina no one has objections to this white girl living with blacks? A black boy openly rides around in a car with a white girl and it doesn't cause any repercussions?
Then on top of all these implausibilities, wafted about like smoke, is all this mystical stuff about bees, feminist spirituality and the Black Madonna--all of it with a sentimentality more cloyingly sweet than honey. Truth is, there are plenty of coming of age stories with young first-person narrators set in the Jim Crow South dealing with racial relations such as To Kill a Mockingbird. This just isn't one of the stronger ones. And after reading plenty of books lately suffused with magical realism and feminist spirituality by authors such as Alice Hoffman and Joanne Harris... Well, what those authors have in common is prose that is itself magical. For me Kidd just doesn't make the cut. Mind you, I seem to be in the minority on this, and two of my favorite authors on Goodreads (Sharon Kay Penman and Jacqueline Carey) rated it highly. But no, this just didn't do it for me.”
“Amazing read!”SweetPSammi wrote this review Sunday, September 22, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“A very sad but wonderful book. This book really taught me how life was in the south and helped me to understand what life was like for blacks during the civil rights movement”Anna Markert wrote this review Friday, September 20, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Quite depressing and sad, however it gets you thinking. An amazing read thatstrikes you at the core.”Hattie wrote this review Sunday, September 15, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Not as good as my sister said it would be but it was still well written”carolineryellow wrote this review Tuesday, September 3, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I don't remember why I never wrote a review for this book when I read it. It was absolutely wonderful. Borderline favorite.”McKale wrote this review Thursday, August 29, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“South Carolina in the 1960’s was a place in the South that was plagued with discrimination and racism. Lily is a fourteen year-old orphan that is white and trying to find acceptance and love from a family. She carries much guilt from causing the accidental death of her mother that her father blames her for. After running away from her abusive father, she finds the love that she has always desired from three black sisters, May, June, and August, who had known her mother years before. They fall into a natural role of mother to Lily, providing her a stable and comfortable life. When her father finds her, she finally learns the truth about her mother’s leaving. This book is a must read for young girls that are trying to find their place in life.
Genre: Historical Fiction; Levels: Grade Level Equivalent: 7.2; Interest Level: 9; DRA: N/A; Guided Reading: N/A; Lexile: 840L (Scholastic.com)
“Set in the 1960's US in a time of racial tensions Lily narrates her coming of age tale. Lily flees her abusive father and the police with her nanny Rosaleen to find more of her mother's history.
She goes to live with the three calendar sisters who have a profound influence on her life. August adopts her as a daughter and helps her to forgive herself and love others. It is a celebration of family and motherhood.
Vivid description and enchanting characters record Lily's journey to womanhood in unique southern voice. ”
“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 femal power, a story women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.
“One thing that really bothered me about this book is that Mary was a huge part of it. I'm not Catholic so I do not believe that Mary is all that important. I would have liked it better if it had less about Mary and more about Jesus. However disregarding that, it was an oikay book. It had a lot of life lessons in it which where nice to read about. However, I think it took a very long time for things to get interesting. You end up waiting half the book for a confrontation that happens the last two chapters of the book!”hannah o wrote this review Sunday, August 11, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No