The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd

The Secret Life of Bees by Kidd Monk Kidd: Book CoverFinished 4-2-09, rating 5/5, fiction, pub. 2002

Next to Shakespeare I love Thoreau best.  Mrs. Henry made us read portions of Walden Pond, and afterward I’d had fantasises of going to a private garden where T. Ray would never find me.  I started appreciating Mother Nature, what she’d done with the world.  In my mind she looked like Eleanor Roosevelt.

Chapter 3

It’s 1964 in South Carolina and Lily is a fourteen year old living with her abusive dad and the knowledge that she killed her mother.  All she has of her mother is a photo and a picture of a black Mary with the words Tiburon, South Carolina written on the back.  When she chooses to spring her nanny, Rosaleen, from jail they hitchhike to Tiburon so Lily can find the memory of her mother.  What she finds are three African-American beekeepers that live in a pink house.  The three sisters take  in Lily and Rosaleen.

This novel has been popular for so long, it almost seems silly to to write a review, but I am sometimes silly.  My Mom gave me this book in 2003 and told me I had to read, but I didn’t think it was my type of book.  So, I am silly, a major procrastinator and occasionally wrong.  I absolutely loved this book.

 I thought Lily’s heartbreak over the confusion of her mother’s death and her pain of having T. Ray not love her was touching and real.  I loved her embarrassment over Rosaleen and Rosaleen blossoming in the pink house.  The three sisters were each interesting and August provided Lily with the rock that she needed.  

I didn’t even mind learning about bees and the Black Madonna.  I’m not sure I totally got the ‘religion’ the small group practiced, but it did provide stability for Lily.  And the bees helped her gain confidence.

The book was not only about losing a mother, but racial inequality.  Lily was the only white girl in a house filled with black.  Zach, who worked with the bees, provided Lily with the knowledge that desire is color blind and he was also a friend to lean on.   August, June, and May all accepted her even though it was highly improbable at the time.  I loved Rosaleen’s obsession with registering to vote and the full circle the story provided for her.

This is the best book I’ve read in awhile and I’m happy to have finally read it.  Now I can watch the movie.  Will I be disappointed?


12 thoughts on “The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd

  1. bermudaonion says:

    I’m so glad you enjoyed this book. I loved the movie, too, but there was a gap of a couple years between the two for me. Also, I’m a big Queen Latifah fan.

    There is something very likeable about her.

  2. Bobbie Crawford-McCoy says:

    It sounds like a book that I would enjoy. I haven’t watched the movie, but now I think I might. 🙂
    Thanks for the review Stacy; I’m glad that you finally had time. Your mom would be proud lol
    I finally got the award posted up, thanks again for giving me the Sisterhood award! 🙂
    Have a great weekend.

    Thanks for your kind words on your blog.

  3. Tonya says:

    I saw the movie before I read the book and based on my (terribly unreliable) memory, it follows pretty close to the book. It’s always different when you read the book first and love it that much, but I think you will probably like it. There are a few differences but not enough to hurt the story.

    I like your review. I recently reviewed this too and felt kind of silly also, since so many people have already read it but I figure I really writing my emotions on a book, not trying to tell people whether or not they should read it.

    I had to remind myself that I write the book reviews for me. Of course, I hope others will read them and comment (I love comments) too 🙂

  4. Literary Feline says:

    Isn’t this an amazing book? I am so glad you enjoyed it. I did as well.

    I liked the movie, but then, it’s been a few years since I read the book and so there was a lot of distance between the two. If you are the kind of person who is easily disappointed in movies based on books, you probably will be disappointed in this one. I tend to be able to separate the two mediums and appreciate them for what they are–changes and all.

    I do think I should allow a little time before I see the movie so I won’t be so critical. I don’t always separate the two 🙂 The movie does have a great cast.

  5. jb says:

    I am so glad you finally read it and loved it! I thought it was touching and entertaining. Since it has been six years since I read it, some of the details escape me now. But I know I really loved it – maybe it’s time I reread it.

  6. Eva says:

    I loved this one too! I loved the movie as well, but like the other commenters, there were a couple years in between.

    And I think it’s good to write about books that aren’t super-popular right now: that’s how we get others to read them! 😉

  7. Staci says:

    I absolutely adored the book, in fact, it’s still one of my favorites. I will definitely watch the movie, it looks like it will be pretty good and I like the actress’ they chose!

  8. Megan says:

    Great review! I’ve actually not read the book or seen the movie… it’s one of those things I keep planning on getting around to, but havne’t yet. I’ll definitely be looking out for both!

  9. Jackie (: says:

    The book was amazing. I had heard people saying it was good, but what they said was nothing compared to how good the book is. I’m glad I finally got around to reading it. I would love to see the movie but I haven’t yet. One of my favorite parts of the book was the relationship between Lily and Zach. It meant a lot to me. I get looked down upon because I m white and I’m attracted to black guys, but I thought this book showed that love shouldn’t be determined by color and it was simply amazing.

    Jackie (:

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