Date started: April 9, 2012
Date finished April 14, 2012
I had wanted to read Little Bee for at least a year and a half, so I’m surprised it’s taken me this long to get around to it. The only reason it took me as long to finish it as it did was because I was on spring break with friends, so I didn’t have a ton of time to devote to reading it until we were making our way back to school. Little Bee is about two women, Little Bee, a Nigerian refugee, and Sarah O’Rourke (née Summers), a British magazine editor. The two meet when Sarah and her husband Andrew go on vacation to Nigeria and meet Little Bee on a beach. The events of that meeting change both of their lives, and two years later, they are forced to deal with the consequences of that fateful encounter.
My rating: 7/10
I wanted to love Little Bee. As long as I waited to read it, and as many reviews as I read saying how phenomenal the book was, I was expecting a little bit more than what I got. I loved the writing. The language, especially in Little Bee’s chapters, was beautiful. Incredibly engaging and vivid. But I found it a little bit hard to sympathize with Sarah which, considering half of the novel is told from her point of view, struck me as a huge flaw, not necessarily on the author’s part, but maybe on account of my own lack of experience with what she had to deal with. After discussing the book with a friend, I do understand what Cleave was trying to do — present characters that were more or less morally ambiguous and “explore the human experience” as my friend said — but I still felt very indifferent about her as a character. Out of the four adult characters, the only one that I felt anything for was the eponymous character. I found the husband to be pathetic and a man named Lawrence to just be insufferable. Overall though, after having a couple of days to mull it over, I like the book more than I did when I first finished it. It is not a feel good novel, but it is thought-provoking. If you’re going to pick this one up, I would ignore the editor’s note because it is rather smug. Also note that Little Bee is the American title — in the UK it is sold as The Other Hand.