Sunday, March 7, 2010

Review: Little Bee by Chris Cleave

Little BeeI ask you right here to agree with me that a scar is never ugly. That is what the scar makers want us to think. But you and I, we must make an agreement to defy them. We must see all scars as beauty. Okay? This will be our secret. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means I survived.

The back cover copy of Little Bee asks me not to say too much about the book because the magic is in how it unfolds.

Somehow I missed the magic.

It's not that I hated Little Bee, it's just that overall I felt rather indifferent about it. It was an odd sort of reading experience in that way, because while I could appreciate what the author was trying to accomplish, while I could appreciate some of the issues he raised and even liked some specific passages, I failed to engage and connect on an emotional level with the story or characters. And I think I was SUPPOSED to have an emotional reaction, many other reviews state tears, etc. but I found the plot unlikely and the characters somewhat intolerable. So in the end, I don't feel that Little Bee is a bad book, it was just average.

Little Bee is told in two narratives from Sarah--and English woman's viewpoint and Little Bee a Nigerian refugee's viewpoint. The story picks up years after they first met but their first meeting is central to the story.

Little Bee tackles issues of immigrant detention centers in England, the responsibility those of us in the West have when it comes to these things, marriage, and purpose. It's about right and wrong, good and bad. It's about survival and how that fits in with being human. It sounds exactly like the kind of book I would normally love but sadly it just didn't connect.

Having said that, it does make quite a good book club choice, as there's a fair bit to talk about. For example, I talked about how much every choice the characters made bugged me and others talked about well other things. I can't say too much without spoiling the plot and if you are interested in reading this book, I don't want to do that.

I wish I had liked Little Bee more because a lot of people I really respect loved it. But I didn't. In end, I think this book will be quite forgettable.

Rating: 3.75/5
Things You Might Want to Know: Language, sex, violence
Source of Book: Bought it
Publisher: Simon and Schuster


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