Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Little Bee

Little Bee by Chris Cleave

Little Bee is impossible to describe. I can tell you it is the brutal but beautiful story of an African refugee (to the UK) and a British woman who she comes to live with. They met years ago on a beach, and what happened there steered the course of their lives, truly interwove their lives, indefinitely. I said in my summer reading preview that my friend Laurel told me she literally was so overcome with emotion when reading it that she slung her book across the room and forced herself to go to sleep. I believe I know the exact moment that her book hit the fan. I found myself going "NO. No no no.. No way?! NO!" Aloud. To myself. Like a crazy person.

Be warned that Little Bee will make you think. It's a book about social injustice. But then it isn't. It's about friendship and relationships, and character development... but also it's so much more than that. And as the author says in the endnotes, "The characters in it are imagined, although the action takes place in a reality which is intended to call to mind our own". You'll think about your relationships, and what is worth saving. And Who is worth saving? Why is it that a child dressed as Batman, fighting the "baddies," and a 16-year-old African refugee were the only two people in this story who acted truly unselfishly without prodding or without guilt as motive?

It's a phenomenal story with truly beautiful writing. Just gorgeous. I am not one to notice prose as often as others, nor do I care, especially if I'm distracted by the story by having to re-read and re-construct sentences (or the opposite, when I'm distracted by terribly bad writing). But his writing is clear and carries the story, but I also found myself rereading sentences just because they flowed so nicely and described his intended thought so uniquely, that I reread and thought Damn that was nice.

It's heavy, but you won't be sorry. Pick. It. Up.

(And now, after all that seriousness, I'm back to YA fantasy.)

Little Bee by Chris Cleave
Paperback - Simon & Schuster, 2010 

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