Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

The Secret Life of Bees

Author: Sue Monk Kidd

Publisher: Penguin

5 out of 5 stars

An insistent humming fills the air.  As she gets nearer, it’s as if she can feel the vibrations in the air.  She can’t believe how all those tiny, delicate wings can come together to create a noise that demands her attention in such a way.  Everywhere she looks there are bees, and more bees.  They swirl in the air, lazily cutting through the thick, summer heat.  They appear to be so free, doing whatever they please.  Sometimes Lily wishes she could sprout wings and fly through the air just like them.  Maybe she can, just without the wings.

Lily Owens has lived her entire life as a question.  It’s the summer of 1964, and Lily is now fourteen years old.  She’s had to go through more than any fourteen-year-old should.   All Lily has ever wanted is to have a mother who could help her navigate the treacherous waters of growing up.  Instead all she has is her abusive father T. Ray, who she isn’t even comfortable with calling Daddy.  Her father constantly puts her down, and her regular punishment is being forced to kneel on uncooked grits for hours at a time.  It’s time for Lily to find some answers, and she knows she won’t be getting any here.

After being attacked while with her African American nanny, Rosaleen, Lily decides that she has had enough.  She sneaks Rosaleen out of the hospital, and the two set off to Tiburon, South Carolina.  They go in search of answers, but what they find is much more.  Will Lily ever be able to escape her past and find out where she truly belongs?  All is revealed in Sue Monk Kidd’s empowering novel about the power of mothers and just how strong a bond of love can be in, The Secret Life of Bees!
The Secret Life of Bees follows the journey of one girl searching for what she thinks she needs most in her life, only to find what she never knew she was even missing.  With a historical, Southern setting, and told from Lily’s unique perspective, The Secret Life of Bees feels entirely real.  A story with true heart, this book is a great read for any teen out there who is trying to find themself.  I suggest this book for older teens, as it deals with extreme racism, and language not suitable for younger readers.

Reading The Secret Life of Bees from Lily’s perspective truly made the journey feel all the more relatable.  I could connect with Lily on an emotional level, and it was easy to feel her frustrations and her sorrow.  At times it may have felt that Lily was whining and wallowing in self-pity, but when I really saw the big picture, I probably would have handled myself in the same way Lily did.  Lily also looked at life in such a unique way, that there was never a dull moment.  At the start of the book, Lily has already been through so much, that she has a very mature outlook on life.  It’s almost as if there is an old soul inside of her, and it was a pleasure to get to watch her find that within herself.

The everlasting bonds of love were truly shown throughout the book, and it helped me see how anyone can change their lives if they wish to do so.  You can do anything as long as you have that web of support that your family and loved ones provide.  The people that Lily encounters along the way are amazingly kind and caring, such as the beekeeping sisters that Lily stays with.  Though they might not have all welcomed Lily at first, they soon grew on each other, and showed what love is all about.  It doesn’t matter what race you are, your sexuality, or what your past is, love is love.

Hence the name of the book, in The Secret Life of Bees bees played a large role. At first, they were merely a means for Lily to dream of escaping her father’s clutches.  They were something she dreamed of becoming.  However, later on they came to mean so much more than that.  Not only were bees a meaningful symbol for Lily, but at the beginning of each chapter, there was also an excerpt that explains a certain aspect of the life of bees.  These little excerpts foreshadowed what was to come, and always related to what took place in the chapter.  Who knew bees and humans were so much alike?

The Secret Life of Bees takes a look at life in the 60’s and how one young girl is surviving through the intense racism of the time.  Full of love, this is a book that shows both the good and the bad of Lily Owens’ journey to find herself.  Join Lily, as she flits from flower to flower to find her own hive in, The Secret Life of Bees!

-This is T.B. with Another Book Back on the Shelf…
Until Next Time, Keep Reading!

Check out Sue Monk Kidd's website at


  1. I loved this book as well and found the beekeeping sisters to be some of my favorite characters of any book. Wonderful review!

  2. This sounds like a very powerful book that's relevant to read at any age. Great review as well. It was beautifully written!

  3. I loved this book too! I loved how the sisters put honey on Lilly's hair to make it shiny and straight like they did someone else's hair. (don't want to give away anything.) I really enjoyed this one. I didn't even mind the movie adaptation. You write such beautiful reviews TB, I expect to read your book one day, sooner rather than later.


  4. LOVED this book! The characters are so vivid, heart-felt and lovely. Glad you enjoyed it too.


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