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2010 Book Review

May 7, 2010

12. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kid

I spent most of this book craving honey.  Of course, I was reading this while sick, so it’s possible the many descriptions of how good for the body honey can be had me wishing the honey would help me.

The story, on the surface, is about a young girl who runs away from an abusive father and finds happiness on a bee farm.  But much like the title implies, there are a lot of secret undercurrents to the story which can be hard to pin down.  The book does deal with some of the racial tensions of the era in which it is set (1960s South Carolina), but doesn’t go into much depth.  It even ignores some of the more likely reactions that other white characters should have had to the main character hanging around with Persons of Color.  There were a few scenes with the Male Love Interest where I was fully expecting something really horrible to happen, because surely the White Male Establishment wasn’t just going to ignore what was going on.  Were they?  Yup, they certainly were.  There are also some hints of Magical Negro in the women who dispense healing and faith to the main character, but seem to have very little depth themselves.  It is beautiful, it is touching, and sometimes I wished that the author had spent a little less time describing the scenery and more time exploring the relationships of her characters.  It’s not a bad book, and I understand why lots of people loved it.  The Mother/Child relationships are quite moving, and the lessons which the main character learns are good ones.  But there are a lot of parts of this book which seemed to be viewed through the bee keeper’s veil, completely oblivious to the fact that the cloud of bees she is walking through are actually wasps.

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