This is one of those books that I’d heard of before, but I had no idea what to expect. I simply saw the title and thought, “Hey, I know that title. I should get it.”
I realize that probably isn’t the best way to try new things. You can’t just assume that popularity = quality.
However, I bought the book and took it with me on a recent trip to California. I needed something to do inside while it was 108 degrees outside.
Set in South Carolina during the 60s, The Secret Life of Bees is about a 14-year-old white girl named Lily who runs away from home with her black caregiver, Rosaleen. Lily’s purpose in running away is partly to escape her abusive father, partly to learn more about her dead mother, and also because she had just helped Rosaleen escape from jail.
I’ll let you read the book to find out why Rosaleen was even in jail, but for now I’ll just remind you that she’s black and we’re talking about the South during the 60s.
Lily and Rosaleen end up in the home of 3 black sisters – May, June, and August – who earn their living through beekeeping and selling honey.
The majority of the book is about Lily learning about beekeeping, discovering new information about her mother, and figuring out her spot in this world.
I don’t really have any complaints about the book, and I enjoyed reading it. There are several instances of death and suicide, racism, and abuse. But I don’t feel it should be avoided by anybody willing to read To Kill a Mockingbird.
I don’t feel it’s the same quality as To Kill a Mockingbird, but it has some similar topics. I can’t imagine anybody would find one appropriate while finding the other offensive.
If I had to pick one thing that I would have omitted if I were the author, I’d leave out the love story between Lily and Zach. It’s only brought up a few times, but that just makes it even more unnecessary.