Title: The Secret Life of Bees
Author: Sue Monk Kidd
Format: I read a paperback version of the book.
The story begins on a Peach farm owned by T.Ray Owens, where he and his
daughter Lily (both white) live and work. He isn’t very nice and
doesn’t show affection and is sort of abusive. T.Ray has had a bad
attitude towards Lily ever since she accidentally killed her mother.
When T.Ray tells Lily that her mother left, she runs away, and along the
way, breaks Rosaleen out of jail from the hospital. Rosaleen looked
after her along their journey of running away, and also, from when Lily
was 4. Before running away, Lily had found a Black Mary picture with
‘Tiburon, SC’ written on it, so that’s where she went. She goes to the
house of August Boatwright(who is a black woman of BUZZness (tends to
bees and sells honey)), who openly accepts her into the home, which is
also home to August’s sisters May and June. Lily and Rosaleen spend
their summer there with the Boatwrights, befriending others along the
way, and working for August to help keep the honey business afloat.
Lily Owens is a 14-year-old white girl born on July 4th, 1950 living
with her unloving father T.Ray in Sylvan. She is looked after by
Rosaleen and can trust her with anything. She is also confused about all
of the racism that is occurring around her.
Daise is a large black woman who isn’t afraid to openly speak her mind.
She looked after Lily after her mother died and has created a strong
Boatwright, also African American, opens up her home and welcomes Lily
and Rosaleen into it after Lily lies her way into staying. August had
cared for Lily’s mother when she was younger, and knew Lily was her
daughter right from the start, but wanted to wait until Lily was ready
to talk about it.
Theme: One of the themes of the story is mothers. That theme is shown
throughout the book a lot, for example, Lily loses her mother, and when
she goes off to find out more about her mom, she learns a lot about
herself, and also, meets other women who now acted as mother figures to
her. Another example of the theme is the Virgin Mary(a.k.a. Black
Madonna) guided all of them through the twists and turns on the
rollercoaster of life.
Strengths- The entire book was just one big strength because it was so
well written and had so many lessons and such in it. Another strength
was how strong the women were in this book, even though they had less
rights in that time.
Weakness(es)- The start of the book wasn’t very attention grabbing and a bit boring.
The ending of the story was excellent and very enjoyable. Some of the
things that happened in the end I had hoped for, but there were also
some additional things that made the ending not as good.
Rating: 4.5 chocolate bars out of 5.
Cover Thoughts: The cover of the book suits it very well because it has the honey jar
with the picture that led the main character to where she was destined
to go. I also liked how there was just a solitary bee on the cover as
well because it looked like it belonged there, and without it, the cover
would be more bare.
Some swearing that wasn’t too dominant in the book, but there was also
some offensive language in the book, too. There was a lot of racism in
the story because of the time period it taking place in, which was just
when the Civil Rights Act has been passed.
There was some violence where there was beating and cruel treatment,
but it wasn’t too dominant and only in a few parts.
Sexual Content: There was barely any, if not, no sexual content in the story at all.
Mature Themes: Throughout, Lily was finding herself and growing up, but there weren’t really inappropriate mature themes.
I would recommend this book to ages 13 and up.
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