Book Review: Little Bee

Little BeeLittle Bee by Chris Cleave

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a book club pick, and I actually really enjoyed it. If I’d done the rating/review before the book club discussion, I probably would’ve given it four stars. However, our discussion really changed my viewpoint.

The Story
Little Bee is a 16-year-old Nigerian refugee who has been held at a detention center in the UK for *mumble mumble* time before being released. However, the release was not so much on the up & up, and she’s still illegal.

Sarah & Andrew O’Rourke are a British couple with a young son (Charlie, who refuses to take off his Batman costume) and a marriage that is falling apart.

Sarah, Andrew, and Little Bee were inextricably tied together by events on a Nigerian beach in the most ill-advised free, marriage saving vacation ever. (Hey sweetie, I know that I’ve done you wrong, but I’d like to take you on this free vacation to a war-ravaged country, and then we’ll ignore the armed guards on the beach & just wander off, secure that our whiteness is all the protection that we need!)

ANYWAYS – The characters are such that it is hard to really like them. They are so flawed. However, I don’t feel that detracts from the story. I’m okay with having characters I don’t like (and regardless of the opinion of other book club members, I actually rather enjoyed Charlie/Batman – little tyke was dealing with a lot of shit, and if he needs to be Batman to process the fact that his parents are neglectful douches, then I think that is A-OK).

The story covers what happens when Little Bee reunites with Sarah & Andrew in the UK as well as what happened to link them all together in the first place.

I think it was well-written, evoked a lot of emotion, and was a very interesting and depressing story. However, I do think the ending was anti-climactic, rather stupid, and not nearly as realistic/well-written as the rest of the story. Sarah’s character is so impulsive and rash, and the more I read of her and thought about her, the more I couldn’t deal with her actions, even on a fictional level; she seems unable to learn from the mistakes of the past, and her impulsive actions endanger herself, and more importantly, her pre-school son.

So – I think it’s absolutely worth reading. There is no way that I will go see this when the movie comes out. And I’d be interested to hear the opinions of others who’ve read it…..

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