Thoughts Little Bee by Chris Cleave 2008, 1st Simon & Schuster paperback ed. Feb 2010, 271 pages
MOTIVATION for READING: For my book club; I borrowed from another clubber. Discussion to be May 20.
“We must see all scars as beauty. Okay? This will be our secret. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived.
In a few breaths’ time I will speak some sad words to you. But you must hear them the same way we have agreed to see scars now. Sad words are just another beauty. A sad story means, this story-teller is alive. The next thing you know, something fine will happen to her, something marvelous, and then she will turn around and smile.”
WHAT’s is ABOUT: Little Bee has escaped Nigeria only to be caught and detained in an immigration facility in England for two years. She uses that time wisely, learning how to speak the Queen’s English. When she finds herself released without papers, she calls on the only people she knows – a couple she met on the beach back in Nigeria who are shocked at having to relive the moments of that fateful meeting on a beach two years past.
WHAT’s GOOD: This book is well written and evokes many emotions about the plight of immigrants who do not just want a better life in a ‘nice’ country but need to escape dire situations. This is a serious somewhat unsentimental book, shining a fictional light on true-to-life horrible despicable situations most of us (those of us with ‘nice’ lives) prefer not to get too close to. Little Bee is endearing; this reader wants to fight for her success.
WHAT’s NOT so GOOD: I just didn’t get as swept up as I had hoped. I can’t pinpoint any faults. I did like the book but I didn’t find anything to praise highly. I actually appreciated the author thoughts in the back of the book – it added to my understanding of the conflicts in wartorn Africa. I was not overly charmed by the little kid. And the mom was not a woman I would probably like in real life but I found her believably portrayed. I did love the title character Little Bee.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This book will be a good one to discuss because I think we Americans (OK, me) do have a very insulated look – if we bother to look at all! – at the tragedies occurring in places around the globe. I don’t doubt that the oil war massacres happen, have happened and happen again while governments deny or bury the news. It’s tragic and the frustration of how to do one good thing to help is overwhelming. So… let’s watch American Idol and wonder if Kim Karsdashian has had plastic surgery, shall we?
I know that a few other clubbers did not enjoy the book so I hope we not only look at the plot but also the writing which personally, I enjoyed. We will likely have some ‘moral dilemma’ discussion.
RATING: THREE SLICES of PIE. Key Lime Pie because whatshername (see? I don’t even remember her name – eek!) drinks Gin & Tonics and they usually have a lime garnish.
QUALIFIES for the AFRICA slot of the Read GLOBAL Challenge.
P.S. I originally had wanted to listen to the audio of this book because it has been said it’s a very good one to hear, for the voices. Unfortunately, I didn’t pay attention to the fine print when I purchased. I ended up with a disc that was unplayable in my car’s CD system so I had to send it back and find the actual book. Be warned! — read the true description! I swear, I have the worst luck with audios…
P.P.S. I love the publishers that include how the Library of Congress catalogues a book, don’t you? I just don’t know if I should use these as tags on a post or at the beginning of the post, include at all or just what. Any opinions? I think I’ll add as tags…
As Charley says in her review at Bending Bookshelf, “a solid story with potential for interesting discussion.”
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