Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Book Review ~ "The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd

In order to get ready for the start of the "Fall Into Reading 2012" challenge, I've been making a concerted effort to finish off some books that I made my goal to read through the summer.  This book was on my list in the spring I believe and I didn't get around to it so made I made extra effort to get it done over the summer.  I was going to take it on holidays and then changed my mind and in all honesty was glad that I did.  Not a holidaying kind of book to me.  

 Lily is a 14 year old girl living on a peach farm in South Carolina in 1964.  Her mother died when she was 4 and Lily believes it is her fault.  Her father shows her no love and deals with her harshly and the only person she can turn to is her African American nanny, Rosaleen.  But when Rosaleen is arrested when provoked by the town's worst rascist, Lily feels totally alone.  In a rash decision to run away and break Rosaleen out of the town jail, the two embark on a journey towards a town called Tiburon.  Lily found the name of a town on a picture of a black Madonna that was part of her mother's few possessions.  So in an effort to connect with her deceased Mom, the two set out on a journey that leads them to the home of 3 bee keeping sisters.  The sisters take them in, with hardly a question asked and it's here that Lily finds answers to those questions that she has struggled with for so long.  It's a story that involves turbulent racial times, racism, love and finding your place and where home is.

I finally got around to reading this book.  But it took over 2 weeks to get through it.  It just didn't grab me. "Plodding along" is how I felt reading through it.   I kept reading it because it is a book that has had so much "buzz" (haha) about it.  That's what compelled me to keep reading, not so much the story.  I have to admit the whole aspect of the story that revolved around the black Madonna did not appeal to me at all, and it ended up being a huge part of the story.  I thought the rituals with the madonna were just plain weird and the divine personality and abilities attributed to the Madonna was just maddening from a Christian perspective.   Some parts of the story I thought were either a bit unbelievable or not followed through enough.  Case in point was the part where Lily, the young white girl, and Zach, a teenage black teen who worked at the bee farm,  had gone to town and got mixed up in a racial argument that ends up with a white man with a broken nose and several black teens, including Zach, being hauled off to jail.  Serious stuff.   That Lily just sits in the truck throughout, with seemingly not a lot of fear,  with not one person noticing that she was actually with one of the black teens and she wasn't questioned or even acknowledged and just walked away is strange to me.   This was set in the South in racially turbulent, scary times.

What I did like though, was the story of the closeness of the 3 sisters.  I really liked some of the personalities of the main characters.   I did like how the author described things in the book like the pink house, the honey house and bees and their lives.   But the story just didn't have that "can't put it down, stay up way too late reading" feel to it for me.  I just don't get the fascination of this story that seems to be out there.

Bummer. That's the last two books I've read, 2 summer reads, that have barely made the pass for me.  Oh well, fall is here and a fresh set of books!  Excited to get my list together for Fall Into Reading!  Hopefully, they'll all be good.

Rating:   5/10


Faith said...

wow...i had a WHOLE different take on that book! the abuse she endured, etc. was just well, so gripping for me.....I LOVED that book!! LOL..the black Madonna thing didn't bother me cause i figured it for a cultural thing more than spiritual....I actually have this novel on "one of my fave books" list! LOL....glad you got thru it tho!

nikkipolani said...

Ah, thank you for reading this book for me. I kept feeling it popping up here and there, hinting that I should read it because so many people loved it. But with so much already on my TBR list, I couldn't spare the time. I think I'd've felt the same as you on many points. So thank you.

Barbara H. said...

Thanks so much for this. I had heard the "buzz' (ha!) about this as well, but every time I looked at it, it didn't sound appealing to me. I think I'd feel the same, especially about the black Madonna's supposed attributes.