Monthly Archives: June 2013

Book Report: The Secret Life of Bees…

Since I’m currently computer-less at home my posts make lack the usual “flair” they usually do. My computer went to the big computer heaven in the sky several weeks ago & I’ve disconnected my internet at home, trying to reduce my dependency on social networking (at least for the summer months). After a bought of not even having a cell phone for a few days (when my cell-phone decided to follow my computer into another dimension, needless to say that was quickly remedied) I’m finding out this may be a looooong summer on the homestead!

The Secret Life of Bees

By Sue Monk Kidd

Overall I enjoyed this novel, but it teeters on the line between 3 & 4 stars for me.

I saw the movie based on the novel several years ago & while I really enjoyed the movie I had heard so many positive reviews about the novel & several friends recommended this book to me that naturally I put off reading it as long as possible. You see, I’m kind of an book snob when it comes to popular mainstream novels ( with the exception of The Hunger Games trilogy) most leave me with a big disappointment & feels of, “really???” when those big expectations are not met. It’s the overly critical & judgmental part of my personality shining through. I found, “The Secret Life of Bees” at a thrift store for less than $1 & figured it was time to check it off my Goodreads reading list.

Set in segregated & racist South Carolina during the early 1960’s, it’s the story of teenage Lily Owens, who grew up motherless with an abusive father. After her “stand-in-mother” Rosaleen; an African-American female winds up in jail for spitting on the shoes of the town racist, Lily decides to break Rosaleen out of jail & together they run away. Following the label of an old honey-jar that belonged to her deceased mother, they end up in Tiburon, SC on the doorstep of the 3 Boatwright sisters, who make their living as beekeepers selling Black Madonna Honey. Lily & Rosaleen in grain themselves into the lives of these sisters, their friends, & neighbors. Its set against the tone of beekeeping as a profession with each chapter offering a real-life fact on bees & their social colonies (which I adored, favorite parts of the novel).

“The whole fabric of honey bee society depends on communication;  an innate ability to send and receive messages, to encode and decode information.”

-The Honey Bee-

The whole novel surrounds Lily Owens & her quest to discover who her mother was & to relinquish her own guilt (or to find out if she did, in fact) accidentally kill her mother when she was a small child. We later learn that her mother had spent time in Tiburon & the reasons she had visited, left, & her relationships with the Boatwright sisters.

Since I’m a nature-buff & I’ve looked into keeping my own beehives, the parts of the novel I loved the most were the parts about beekeeping. I fell in love with the character of August Boatwright, the eldest of the sisters, & if the whole novel was just about her wisdom of beekeeping I probably would’ve LOVED this novel. She was about the only character in the novel that I really liked (which I’m sure is the author’s main intention anyways). I enjoyed her life-stories & how she related them to beekeeping. May, I thought, was annoying with her constant tantrums & the way she was babied by everyone else (I know she was mentally handicapped & had been through her own emotional trials, but it was still annoying). Lily was…well…a typical teenage girl, high-drama & all (but I did think the love interest with Zach was uber-adorable). June & Rosaleen were interesting as secondary characters, even though I think Rosaleen’s character should’ve been more developed since she had a pretty major role throughout the novel.

I would definitely recommend this book for a quick summer read. I loved the little life-tidbits that were stuck in the most obscure of spots:

“J-Jesus, O-Others, Y-Yourself. This is the correct order for life and if you follow it, you will have JOY.”

“After you get stung, you can’t get unstung no matter how much you whine about it.”

And many more little gems like that!

Like I said earlier, overall I really enjoyed it, however, it wouldn’t be one that I’d ever pick up to read again. My problem is that I need to just stay away from really popular books, they always seem to fall flat in my expectations. It’s a read that’s worth it if you even have a tiny interest in beekeeping as a hobby because its chock-full of tips & factual info on keeping hives, otherwise, I’d say skip the novel & Netflix the movie; it contained more of the “storyline” & less of the information on beekeeping.

 

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