Audiobooks Book Reviews Books for Adults Tell Me What to Read

Little Bee by Chris Cleave

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 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, this book? 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. . .

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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  • Reply Kristy September 16, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    Yep, I definitely stopped reading Little Bee after about 100 pages. You are not alone in your dislike.

  • Reply Jenny September 16, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    I like an honest review.

  • Reply lifeofadoctorswife September 16, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    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. 😉

  • Reply Rhiannon September 16, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    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.

  • Reply Katie September 16, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    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.

  • Reply melissa @ 1lbr September 16, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    So glad I'm not the only one who struggled to enjoy it.

  • Reply fluentbrittish September 16, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    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.

  • Reply emandtrev September 16, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    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.

  • Reply Yankee Girl September 16, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    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.

  • Reply S September 17, 2010 at 3:47 am

    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.

  • Reply Packrat September 17, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    I'll take your word for it and not waste my time. Thanks.

  • Reply jillian September 17, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    Yeah, I bought it. I can't get past the 4th chapter. Ugh.

  • Reply Laura H January 26, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    Just found your blog. And absolutely agree with this review.

  • Reply Lisa April 6, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    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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