'The Secret Life of Bees'
By: Sue Monk Kidd
(Paperback / 320 Pages / Penguin USA / ISBN: 0142001740 / $14.00)
Description:Set in South Carolina in 1964, 'The Secret Life of Bees' tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily's fierce-hearted "stand-in mother," Rosaleen, insults three of the town's fiercest racists, Lily decides they should both escape to Tiburon, South Carolina--a town that holds the secret to her mother's past. There they are taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters who introduce Lily to a mesmerizing world of bees, honey, and the Black Madonna who presides over their household.
Verdict:If you liked Kaye Gibbon's 'Ellen Foster' then Lily Owens will capture your heart. When her father, T. Ray, punished her by making her kneel on grits, I immediately knew that she was a survivor and he was a coward. May, June, and August Boatwright, the beekeeping sisters, and their Black Madonna honey were exquisite. May's tortured soul taught me about empathy gone awry. Sue Monk Kidd's strong southern storytelling skills are reminiscent of Reynolds Price and Harper Lee. In this her first novel, the writing isn't perfect but it tugged at my heart the way Barbara Kingsolver's 'Pigs in Heaven' did. The characters, the time period and the small town setting made it similar to 'To Kill a Mockingbird.' This novel should be read by parents and teens together. I hope Kidd plans a sequel. I care so much about the characters that I yearn to know about their future lives.
Reviewed by Trina Upson