Genres: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Main themes: Family, Coming of Age, Racism, Empowering Women
Rating: 5 stars
The Secret Life of Bees follows the journey of 14 year old Lily Owens, a girl who’s always been troubled by the hazy memory of a fatal accident that killed her mother when she was just 4 years old. Her upbringing hasn’t been the best thanks to her mean-spirited father, and she’s wanted nothing more than to just get up and leave. One afternoon, Lily does find herself running away, but with Rosaleen, her housemaid and only friend after a racially motivated arrest and attack. Travelling to Tiburon, South Carolina, they’re led to a house painted Caribbean Pink, home to sisters and beekeepers August, May and June Boatwright…
I first watched the film a couple years back and so I was excited to have a read of the novel. It didn’t disappoint, I can honestly say that it was such a well written and heart warming story with such a great lineup of characters. Lily was a strong protagonist whose development was both honest and steady. She was a young, lost girl who just needed the right kind of nurturing and guidance to be on her way. And so it was lovely to see Lily grow with the help of so many kind-hearted, wise, and genuine women- especially August Boatwright. One of my favourite quotes from the book is from August:
“And when you get down to it, Lily, that’s the only purpose grand enough for a human life. Not just to love – but to persist in love.”
August was such an empowering and inspiring character who through her kindness, really gave Lily the space and comfort to heal and grow. I also love that in August, I saw a reflection of the important women in my own life, and it also meant a lot that as a black woman, she was presented as such a positive role model.
So yes, The Secret Life of Bees is definitely a book I’d recommend you add to your ‘to read’ shelf. It’s just one of those stories that has you marvelling at the fact that such extraordinary things can happen to normal people like you and I. That sometimes miracles come in the form of leading a lost soul right to the place where they belong, a place where love flows as free as honey. I really did find it to be an inspiring and deeply satisfying read, something which many others can easily enjoy. There’s not a thing that I’d change about this book so it gets a strong and well deserved 5 stars from me.