Little Bee

Monday, May 30, 2011


Little Bee
by Chris Cleave
★★★☆

A young Nigerian woman, who calls herself Little Bee, tells the story of her journey from her country to the UK. After spending two years in a detention camp she finally heads to London to find an English man, Andrew, who she met briefly in Nigeria.

Andrew’s wife, Sarah, narrates the other half of the novel. She’s a mother and editor of a magazine. She’s attempting to balance her work, raising a child and struggling marriage, all while coming to terms with a recent trauma in her life.

To me, the most fascinating part of this book was the dueling narration. Having two very distinct voices in a book often doesn’t work. The story can get muddled, the point of view becomes confusing, but in this book it was absolutely necessary and I was never unsure of who was speaking. It made the story richer to hear it from two incredibly different people.

Although I enjoyed it, I did have a few problems with the book. Everything leads up to one critical element of the story, but after that point (about midway through) things seem to just putter along. I enjoyed the story and distinct voices, but it would have benefitted from some different pacing. I also thought there were some unbelievable elements in the story, which made it hard to stay in the grip of what was happening. Whenever I read something that was too far fetched to be believable, it halted the flow of the story.

I’d say it’s worth reading, but don’t go into it with expectations set too high.

“We must see all scars as beauty. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived.”

“Isn’t it sad, growing up? You start off thinking you can kill all the baddies and save the world. Then you get a little bit older, and you realize that some of the world’s badness is inside you, that maybe you’re a part of it. And then you get a little bit older still, and a bit more comfortable, and you start wondering whether that badness you’ve seen in yourself is really all that bad at all.”

9 comments:

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I LOVED this book. It so worked for me.

Mumsy said...

I wasn't that keen. I liked the solid characterizations, but I thought the book just breathed "Doom" from the first page. I would definitely try another book by the same author, though.

Teacher/Learner said...

I've seen mixed reviews on this and I'm glad you pointed out some characteristics that didn't work for you. I'll still probably give this a try some time.

Jenners said...

I've been on the fence about this book. Not sure I want to read it actually.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Diane - There were a lot of great elements, but I had a few problems with it. I love that a book can be perfect for one person and not so hot for another. So much of it is what the reader brings to the book.

Mumsy - I agree. The writing itself was great and I would read more from Cleave.

Teacher/Learner - It's definitely worth reading. It's not a bad book by any means.

Jenners - I was on the fence too, but my book club picked it.

She said...

You know, I know I've read this book, but I can't really remember all too much about it. I do remember that they had a very clever description marketing wise but feeling that they didn't deliver.

TheWingchairTraveller said...

Thanks for the review, Avid Reader. I've been back and forth about whether I should read (buy) this, so now I know. Maybe pick it up at the library? :)

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

She - That about sums it up. Good idea, not the best execution.

TheWingchairTraveller - Definitely a library book. Good enouch to read, but not a re-read.

Jillian said...

I liked this one! Wasn't a favorite or anything, but still found it enjoyable.