The Secret Life of Bees

Author: Sue Monk Kidd
Pages: 302
Published in: 2002
Publisher: Penguin Group
Find it at: Flipkart/Amazon
My Rating: 5/5 or more, if I could say that!

I hadn’t heard of this book before Alyssa at Life is Good mentioned that it’s among her top five favourites! (See how awesome book blogging can be?) While searching the shelves in the library I found this title and got it home. I’m so glad I did! I’m buying my own copy because this is one book everyone should read at least once in their lives.

Summary from Goodreads
In Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees, 14-year-old Lily Owens, neglected by her father and isolated on their Georgia peach farm, spends hours imagining a blissful infancy when she was loved and nurtured by her mother, Deborah, whom she barely remembers. These consoling fantasies are her heart's answer to the family story that as a child, in unclear circumstances, Lily accidentally shot and killed her mother. All Lily has left of Deborah is a strange image of a Black Madonna, with the words "Tiburon, South Carolina" scrawled on the back. The search for a mother, and the need to mother oneself, are crucial elements in this well-written coming-of-age story set in the early 1960s against a background of racial violence and unrest. When Lily's beloved nanny, Rosaleen, manages to insult a group of angry white men on her way to register to vote and has to skip town, Lily takes the opportunity to go with her, fleeing to the only place she can think of--Tiburon, South Carolina--determined to find out more about her dead mother. Although the plot threads are too neatly trimmed, The Secret Life of Bees is a carefully crafted novel with an inspired depiction of character. The legend of the Black Madonna and the brave, kind, peculiar women who perpetuate Lily's story dominate the second half of the book, placing Kidd's debut novel squarely in the honored tradition of the Southern Gothic. --Regina Marler 

My Thoughts
I wasn’t even halfway through when I was sure this book is fantabulously awesome and deserves a 5/5 rating! I was hooked to it and totally into the story from the very beginning, what Lily remembers about the “incident” when she was four and her Mother passed away, how bad, resentful and confused she feels over how T.Ray treats her and eventually the readers would move along with her as different events happen that change the course of her life. Lily is easy to like, but at some places you might think she should be more mature, but even then, you think back to what all she’s endured and considering all that, you might find her even well behaved sometimes. I like her nevertheless, what with all the wondrous things happening around her, like she says in the book, “I wake up to wonder each day.”

The story’s focused on a number of things. Childhood and how parents’ problems and misbehaviour affects the children. That was Lily’s case. How children feel the need to know the truth, no matter how harsh it is, how they sometimes have to live with facts that even adults find hard to bear. Then there’s racism, Rosaleen’s case. She gets in trouble just because she stood up for herself in front of the three most racist men in town, how she lands in jail and then in hospital. Even later when Lily’s living with four black women whom she adores, the policemen advise her to stay away from ‘bad influence’. The book definitely gives the message that color has absolutely no role in what a person is from the inside, which is just so true!

I loved the story when Lily and Rosaleen were in Tiburon with the ‘Calendar sisters’, especially August, who’s a really respectable character. I would love to have a relative like her! :P All the parts about bee keeping were also interesting. You just realize there’s so much you don’t know, like how we get the honey we spread on our breads; how those bees are reared, how they live and their habits. The book also covered Christianity, primarily the sisters’ belief in black Mary. All the stories about her and her powerful aura and spirituality were so overwhelming! Also the way Lily felt connected to her and respected and grew to love her was simply heart warming, since she was always remembering, rather, fantasizing about her mother and found a mother figure in Mary and all the women in the 'pink house' (The Calendar sisters' house).

Needless to say, the book is extremely well written! And it’s the author’s first book! Totally amazing! I wish for this kind of talent, one where the first book itself is mind blowing! It’s also been made into a movie, I discovered. I would love to see it sometime! There are a few lines from the book I saved, which I really want to share!

The world was really one big bee yard, and the same rules worked fine in both places: Don’t be afraid, as no life loving bee wants to sting you. Still, don’t be an idiot; wear long sleeves and long pants. Don’t swat. If you feel angry, whistle. Act like you know what you’re doing, even if you don’t. Above all, send the bees love. Every little thing wants to be loved.

This is by far my absolute favourite! ‘Some things don’t matter that much, like the color of a house. How big is that in the overall scheme of life? But lifting a person’s heart- now, that matters. The whole problem with people is they know what matters, but they don’t choose it.’

‘There’s a fullness of time for things. You have to know when to prod and when to be quiet, when to let things take their course.’ Aww... this one is so good too! 

Drifting off to sleep, I thought about her. How nobody is perfect. How you just have to close your eyes and breathe out and let the puzzle of the human heart be what it is. Oh God. This is awesome too. I just love each word of this book. *Insanely brilliant*

And you know the best part? It comforted me the most when I needed something so bad! I almost had a mini anxiety attack a couple of days ago thinking over new college beginning the next day and new faces and finding out and making new friends. Then I picked The Secret Life of Bees and it showed me how tiny actually, the problem with me is, if I compare it with what people have to suffer from. When I read about how Lily was feeling sad, I could connect with her feelings so strongly and then all those pages talking about how she finally got over it, found happiness and a very happy ending to the story.

“If you think you have problems, read a book”

Recommended for: Everyone!

PS- I typed this review in over three days. What exactly my life with this hectic college schedule is going to be, I have no clue. And believe me, if I could, I would pick reading and blogging over college any day, but I can't really do that. :| Anyway, I would try my best to be as regular as I can!


  1. How are you, Ashna? Wonderful blog ...extremely feminine ... charming ... beautiful post. Congrats for your work. Well, passing to say hello, nice to read your text.
    If you like the poetry I invite you to my space, thank you.
    Happy day my dear friend!.

    1. Thanks for visiting! I'll sure check out your blog. :)

  2. This is a nice review. I haven't read the book, but I have seen the movie. I remember thinking the movie was really powerful so I can imagine that the book is probably even more so.

    1. Oh you're making me really want to see the movie! :)
      Thanks for reading and for the comment, Melissa!

  3. Thanks for mentioning me!! :)) I really want to see the movie to The Secret Life of Bees as well!

    1. You made me read the book! :) I hope you get to watch it soon :)

  4. This is a wonderful review for what I am sure is a wonderful book. I am going to read it 100%. :D

    1. I would love it if you do! :D We can talk about it! I'm so looking forward to discussing it with someone. :)

  5. I have to do a paper for AP English over this book. One of the questions I have to answer is who says "There's a fullness of time for things. You have to know when to prod and when to be quiet, when to let things take their course." I have researched and scanned the book. Several times. I cannot find it anywhere! My paper is due Tuesday morning at 7:00 Am! PLEASE help!

    1. (7 Am central time zone) sorry!

    2. Hi 'Anonymous'!

      I had read this book through the library and unfortunately, I don't have a copy with me, or I'd have checked! Though, I'm 95% sure that this was said by August. I think the context was when Lily had not yet told the truth about herself and maybe August was saying this to June. I hope you'd be able to cross check it and I also hope that 'August' would be the right answer!

      Good luck! :)


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