Some books we read once and never forget. Even years later they remain in our minds, cropping up at the most unpredictable times, reminding us of thoughts and feelings we had thought were long forgotten. And then some books, no matter how much we enjoy them in the moment just slip away and vanish from our minds the minute they are finished. The Secret Life of Bee’s is one such book for me. Despite enjoying it throughout and finding the characters and plot charming as soon as I reached the last page all of the emotions I’d had towards the book seemed to evaporate.
That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the book, far from it, from start to finish it was easy to absorb myself into the world of Lily and her companions and there were occasional moments which were touching and affecting.
The Secret Life of Bee’s is the story of Lilly Owens and the emotional, tumultuous journey she must take in order to find the love and security she has her whole life craved.Since the tender age of four Lilly Owens has harboured a dark secret; when she was just a little girl she accidentally killed her mother. Now ten years later she is desperately searching for atonement and redemption but all she is faced with is spiteful rejection from her cruel and tyrannical father T-Ray. Her only companion on the lonely farm where she lives in South Carolina, is her friend, the families black servant Rosaleen.
It’s Rosaleen who shows her the first real semblances of love, it’s Rosaleen who cares for and about her. But Rosaleen’s life is far from simple, set to the backdrop of the civil rights movement, The Secret Life of Bee’s tells of Roselaeens struggle for acceptance in a hostile and angry world. When she gets into an arguement with some local men Rosaleen refuses to back down to heir prejudices resulting in her imprisonment. Lily decides she can no longer bear life in this town and so decides to escape but her life becomes inextricably linked with her friends when she decides she can’t go alone and breaks Rosaleen free from prison.
Fugitives on the run they find themselves on the doorstep of three eccentric sisters who run a family bee keeping business. In these most unusual of circumstances and against the odds both Rosaleen and Lily begin to experience the acceptance and love they have always craved. But whilst Rosaleen might think their arrival is purely random Lily knows that a powerful link binds her mother to the sisters.
Essentially this is a coming of age story charting a journey of survival and self discovery. It shows the various sides of human nature from hateful and spiteful to loving, warm and protective. It shows that love can be found in the most unexpected places.
I did sometimes find this book slightly predictable and on more than one occasions had the feeling of I’ve being here before’. This isn’t the first book of it’s kind and I’m sure it wont be the last but Kidd still manages to inject the story with touches of originality, particularly the interesting and unusual reference to the art of bee keeping.
However the most fresh and exciting element of the book was for me the idea of the divine female power that we all posses and the prevailing message of sisterhood. Each woman within the book has suffered her own personal struggle within her life and each has found strength from the other, but more importantly from the powerful, divine female within them all.
“‘You don’t have to have your hand on Mary’s hand to get strength and consolation and rescue, and all the other things we need to get through life,’ she said. ‘You can place it right here on your own heart. Your own heart.'”
The Secret Life of Bee’s is an easy, enjoyable read, perfect for when you want something that isn’t too demanding and instead crave a solid, well structured and above all else engaging story.