The Secret Life of Bees

Originally published in March 2005, on my original 52 Books blog.

Just finished reading The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. For the sake of all the people who recommended it to me I wish I could say I liked it, but I didn’t. It was one of those books that I found to be okay, but nothing more than that. It was too predictable, often superficial and sometimes felt contrived, like Kidd felt she had to show the whole range of human emotion and just didn’t know when enough was enough.

There are redeeming points, however. The characters, narrator Lily, her surrogate mother and best friend Rosaleen, and the Boatwright sisters, especially August, are rounded and real. The story, of Lily’s coming of age in the American south during a hot summer in the tumultuous 1960’s, rambles somewhat, and could have done with a little sprinkling of magic realism. The tone it is told in screams out for something like that, and you kind of expect it from a book with such a mysterious title.

Added March 4th: On deliberation, I guess I could say that the story had potential which was not fulfilled. Kidd has the potential to become a great writer, and although I didn't like this book (her first novel), it will not stop me from reading her next (if there is one).
2.5 stars.


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