Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Secret Life of Bees

by Sue Monk Kidd

Rated PG-13

The year is 1964 and the Civil Rights Act has just been signed, but not everyone agrees that's a good thing. Lily is a lonely teenager with a past that is a lot for a girl to carry around. Her mother died by Lily's hand when she was 4 and her father mistreats her. The only person who seems to care about Lily is the black housekeeper, Rosaleen, who helped raise Lily after her mother died. The Civil Rights Act means Rosaleen can vote now but when she tries to register, she ends up in jail charged with assaulting three white men. At the same time, 14-year-old Lily decides the only thing to do is run away from her Dad and try to find a place where she can connect with her mom. On her way, Lily breaks Rosaleen out of jail and the two fugitives set off for Tiburon, South Carolina to find someone, anyone, who knew Lily's mom. With a bit of good fortune, and perhaps a bit of supernatural help, they find the Boatwright sisters who offer honey, work, family, healing, and perhaps the key to Lily's past.

I was tempted to give this a PG rating but I decided that PG-13 would be more appropriate. There is some romance with requisite physical longings but it never goes beyond a kiss. Cursing is interspersed throughout the book. Acts of race-motivated violence occurs rarely. As would be expected, racial tension and racist remarks are expressed, mostly by secondary characters. The religious beliefs expressed are mostly focused on Mary, the mother of Jesus. I wasn't sure if I liked this book when I first started reading but the story drew me in and when I closed the book, I found I had greatly enjoyed it after all.
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