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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Secret Life of Bees, a review by Tanna

Title: The Secret Life of Bees
Author: Sue Monk Kidd
Format:  I read a paperback version of the book.
Price:  $14.00.

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.

Rosaleen 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 friendship.

August 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.

Ending Thoughts- 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. 
Language: 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.
Violence: 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. 


  1. Soooo glad you liked this book! It's one of Kristan's favorites. There's a pretty decent movie version of it too, btw, starring Dakota Fanning.

  2. Great review Tanna - really enjoyed reading it, very well written.


    Mr. O


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