Saturday, September 3, 2011

This Book's Journey: The Secret Life of Bees

I checked out several books from the library in preparation for a reading challenge I'm participating in this month called the "Southern Belle Challenge".  It is hosted by Brenda Gail over at Curling Up With a Good Book.  September is to be a month of all things Southern:  books, magazines, recipes, movies, and lots of sweet tea

Source:  Goodreads

 The Secret Life of Bees  by Sue Monk Kidd is one of the books I check out and the book I chose to kick off the challenge with.  The library's copy of the book was published in 2002 and donated to the library in 2005.  It doesn't say who donated.  It simply says donated.  It isn't in bad condition, but it is obvious it has been read many many times.  Let's just say it's fragile.  When I opened it the first time, I noticed that the first four or five pages have pulled away from the spine of the book.  I think eventually all of the pages will start falling out.  The front cover is starting to come off a tiny bit, and if not for the protective covering the library puts on all their books, this book would have worn out years ago.  I think all of these things are signs of a good can tell it's been read by many many people.  It makes me wonder how many people have read this copy of the book.  What were their lives like on the days they read this book?  What made him or her choose it?

I chose it for 3 reasons:

1.  My sister, Beth, has read it and said I would like it.
2.  It was on a list that Brenda Gail posted...Southern Belle Challenge Book Choices
3.  I have seen the preview for the movie and thought it looked interesting.  I haven't actually seen the movie though, although I'm sure I will soon.



From the very first words to the last I was hooked.  The Secret Life of Bees is set in 1964 South Carolina.  Lily is a motherless girl with a cruel father.  The only person in the world she has to depend on is her African American nanny, Rosaleen, whom she loves and who loves Lily in return.  When some unexpected events force Lily and Rosaleen to go on the run Lily follows one of the only clues she has regarding her mother, a picture of Mary, mother of Jesus, with the town Tiburon, South Carolina written across the back.  When they get there they are taken in by three black sisters who live in a bright pink house, keep bees, and sell honey.  It's here with these sisters that Lily finally discovers the truth about her past, and it's also the place where she finally finds the Mother she's always yearned for.

August said, "Listen to me now, Lily.  I'm going to tell you something I want you always to remember, all right?"
Her face had grown serious. Intent. Her eyes did not blink.
"All right," I said, and I felt something electric slide down my spine.
"Our Lady is not some magical being out there somewhere, like a fairy godmother.  She's not the statue in the parlor.  She's something inside of you.  Do you understand what I'm telling you?"
"Our Lady is inside of me," I repeated, not sure I did.
"You have to find a mother inside yourself.  We all do.  Even if we already have a mother, we still have to find this part of ourselves inside."

I really loved all the characters in this book.  I loved Rosaleen for her brave in your face honesty.  I could use a little of that myself.  I liked June (one of the sisters) for her stubbornness.  Some people think being stubborn is a bad thing, but I tend to think sometimes being stubborn is a very good thing.  I liked May (one of the sisters) for her innocence, and I loved August (another sister) for her calmness, her failure to judge others, and for her patience.  All of which are things I aspire to be in my own life.  Most of all I loved Lily for just being Lily.  She wasn't whiny or over dramatic.  She was an "it is what it is" kind of girl.  I enjoyed her humor.

Parts of the book made me cry and parts made me laugh.  Sue Monk Kidd did such a great job describing the setting for us.  I could almost feel the heat, smell the grass, and hear the humming of bees.

I know this book has been out for several years, but if like me you missed it somehow, give it a try.  I think you'll be glad you did.

I plan on renting the movie in the very near future!


  1. I loved reading The Secret Life of Bees too. I read it several years ago. I love all the books by Sue Monk Kidd especially her spiritual books. I am still reading Gone With the Wind. I have never read it so I thought this was as good a time as any!!! What are you going to read next?

  2. Hi Brenda! The Secret Life of Bees is the only book I've read of Sue Monk Kidd. Is there another of her books that you would suggest I read next? My next book for the reading challenge will be My Summer of Southern Discomfort by Stephanie Gayle. Thanks so much for visiting my blog and commenting!

  3. I have not read this book yet but have watched the movie and loved it! You are doing much better on this challenge than I am.

  4. Hi Beth! I'm really enjoying this challenge because I'm readiing some books that I probably wouldn't have read otherwise. It's been fun! Thanks for commenting!!!