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Little Bee by Chris Cleave

little bee book

4 of 10: Little Bee nearly killed me. I can understand why some people like it (or even love it), but it just didn’t do a lot for me. 

This book is WILDLY popular. Currently, it’s sitting in the 28th spot on Amazon’s best sellers list. I tend to like popular books, so this is not a strike against it for me – I have no feelings of superiority about liking very obscure books.

And then I foolishly went and searched for it in my Google Reader and the reviews of several friends and bloggers that I respect and admire were gushing with praise for it thie Little Bee book and I felt like a complete illiterate for not caring for it (“Where are my Twilight books??! I cannot be bothered with books that don’t include unrealistic love triangles and sparkly vampires!”).

But really, Little Bee? Not for me. Not for me at all. I listened to it on my iPod and it took me forever to get through (forever = two months).

The official blurb is all mysterious:

“We don’t want to tell you what happens in this book. It is a truly special story and we don’t want to spoil it. nevertheless, you need to know enough to buy it, so we will just say this . . . Once you have read it, you’ll want to tell your friends about it. When you do, please don’t tell them what happens. The magic is in how the story unfolds.”

Oh brother. Why am I such a cynic? I have no idea. . .

little bee by chris cleave

Anyway. The basic, apparently book-ruining premise is this – Little Bee is a refugee from Nigeria (I will probably never again be able to say Nigeria without pronouncing it the way the narrator did) and she’s been in a detention center for two years in England. When she gets out she goes to the home of Sarah and her son Charlie. Sarah’s husband has recently died, but they knew Little Bee, having met her a few years earlier (how they met would be telling).

The story alternates between Sarah and Little Bee, and switching between the present and the past and eventually you learn how their lives are intertwined.

I could have liked it – there were themes that, played out differently, could have moved me or captured my attention – but it just didn’t. It was too contrived, had too much of an agenda, and too full of sex and swearing.

Oh well. Back to my regularly scheduled teen romances.


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  1. I have been anxiously awaiting your review – like, actually anxious after your comment on GoodReads! And I am counting on your disclaimer that even if you hate the book, you won't hate the person who recommended it. 😉

  2. I *almost* picked this up at the airport before our honeymoon. Glad I didn't. Instead, I bought Mathilda Savitch which I'm halfway through and still on the fence about.

  3. I didn't really like it that much either. The characters really dissapointed me to the point that I made disgusted noises out loud.

    If what the book was going for was complete disgust than it was a triumph for me.

  4. I didn't care for it, either. I bought it having no idea what it was about but thinking I would like it because so many others have liked it. I threw it in the trash when I finished it. I can see why some people would like it, though. It's just not my type of book.

  5. I'm torn on whether or not I will read this one. I have heard and read mixed reviews, so it's quickly plummeting to the bottom of my "must read" list/pile.

  6. I think for me the issue of refugees/detention centers/etc. outweighed any negatives in the story (for the most part)–that is a bit how I felt about Three Cups of Tea. There were some things that just drove me nuts though and that I just couldn't get past.

  7. I felt the exact same way! I despised the British wife and the way the author's agenda was being pushed on me but kept reading because I had to know what happened on that beach. I wish I would have the spoilers instead of wasting time reading it myself.

  8. Will you please email me and tell me what the big secret is? I know, you're not supposed to, blah blah, but I can't stand it and I don't want to read it anyway.

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