Book Reveiw 7-12
Sunday, July 6, 2008

By Denise Turney
This is the second book by bestselling author, Sue Monk Kidd, I have read.  It didn’t take long to discover why The Secret Life of Bees became a national bestseller.  Monk’s experience writing memoirs serve her well with the creation of The Secret Life of Bees.  Her ability to pull readers to the heart of the story is admirable.  Whether or not readers are moving through life absent a parent, the same as young Lily does, the  challenges, lessons and victories Lily endures will connect them with the story.

The story is set in the 1960s.  Lily is a kid, a motherless-daughter who’s living with her mean father, T. Ray.  A small town just outside of Sylvan, South Carolina are home to Lily and T. Ray.  Their home is the same location where Lily lost her mother when she was a toddler.  Lily remembers much of the event that moves on a hinge throughout her growing days.  She takes the hurt of the loss of her mother with her wherever she goes. 

The only thing that threatens to hurt her more is the meanness her father extends to her every single day.  T. Ray’s discipline is distinct and brutal.  It is almost as though he is angry with Lily for having ever been born.

Escape for Lily comes through the few remaining items she has that belonged to her mother.  She hides the items from T. Ray.  They give young Lily solace, solace that doesn’t last long.  Trouble comes in the form of choice and racism. 

Lily and T. Ray’s housekeeper is a woman not to be messed with.  When Lily follows her into town where the housekeeper goes to register to vote, things go wrong.  But there are connections that seemed planted into the universe by the Creator.  Events from the past and the present come together to propel Lilly forward.

Sorrow and laughter, pain and joy bounce against one another in this memorable story that reads and feels more like an autobiography than a novel.  The richness and the vibrancy of community weave through the latter scenes. 

The title is not deceiving.  The story is, in part, about the care of bees, social insects that thrive together and die when they are too long apart.

Monk’s style is sharp and punctured with emotion.  Each character in The Secret Life of Bees is fully fleshed out and strong in her/his own way, even T. Ray.  It’s this balance, this tug of war between joining and parting, that make this book timeless and well worth reading.

Visit Denise online at  Read excerpts from Denise’s two new books online FREE by e-mailing with “Request New Free Excerpts” in the subject line.


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