Sarah's Stars

Sue Monk Kidd.  The Secret Life of Bees
Penguin Books  $21.00  ISBN 0-14-200174-0  302 pg.
Reviewed by Emma, Age 14

The bees came the summer of 1964, the summer I turned fourteen and my life went spinning off into a whole new orbit, and I mean whole new orbit. Looking back on it now, I want to say the bees were sent to me. I want to say they showed up like the angel Gabriel appearing to the Virgin Mary, setting events in motion I could never have guessed...

Lily Owens is a white girl growing up in checkerboard South Carolina, where lines and cracks run deep between the races. With no mother, and a cruel father, Lily relies on Rosaleen, the black housekeeper, for love and support. But when Rosaleen is arrested for standing up to a white man, and then refuses to apologize, Lily knows she must whisk them away before Rosaleen is killed.

Sue Monk Kidd is the multi-award-winning, American author behind The Secret Life of Bees, as well as The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, and When the Heart Waits. Her latest novel, The Mermaid Chair, was recently made into a film starring Academy Award winner Kim Basinger, and another, Firstlight, will be out in October.

This novel, told from the first person, goes deep into the mind of the main character, creating a strong bond between the reader and the protagonist. To look through the eyes of Lily is to see the world through a lens of ethnocentric naivety. The difference between Lily and, say, her father though, is the difference between a pair of shades and a blindfold. One star goes to a special mentor, for removing Lily’s sunglasses, and three more I award to Lily herself, for being willing to see things through her own eyes.

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