Recently I read The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd for the Library’s teen book discussion group, Stuck Between the Pages. It was one of those books that are sort-of/kind-of on your To Be Read list but never quite make it to the top of the pile. But after reading it, I wondered why I had waited so long to do so; it was amazing.
The Secret Life of Bees is set in tumultuous North Carolina in 1964, where fourteen-year-old Lily Owens lives on her cruel father’s peach orchard, eaten alive by the hazy memory she has of the afternoon her mother was killed when Lily was four. When Rosaleen, her father’s black housemaid and Lily’s stand-in mother, decides to register to vote, she takes Lily along with her. Before they get there, Rosaleen is confronted by three of the most racist men in town, insulting them and getting herself (and Lily) arrested. Lily decides to spring them both free and the two of them are on the run, guided only by an old photograph of Lily’s mother with the words, “Tiburon, South Carolina” on the back and an old label featuring the Black Madonna. Lily and Rosaleen do wind up in Tiburon and take refuge with a trio of beekeeping sisters who might just have the key to Lily’s mother’s past.
This was by far one of the most powerful books I have ever read, one that will most likely stay with me. For anyone interested in historical fiction or the classic bildungsroman tale, this is definitely one I would recommend. And even if it’s not a book you would typically pick up to read, I have no doubt you’ll enjoy it as well.