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Little Bee

September 17, 2009

Have you ever finished a book surprised to realize you’d become attached to the characters, and were truly sad to see them go?

I found this was the case with Little Bee by Chris Cleave.  Compared to The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, this book is no light read.  And yet, it’s the sort of book that causes reflection which is too good to pass up.

The story centers around two women: Little Bee, a teenage refugee from Nigeria, and Sarah O’Rourke, British journalist and mother dealing with the death of her husband, Andrew.  The characters, who had met in a horrific setting in Nigeria two years prior to the beginning of the book, come together again and discover their experiences have bonded them, for good or bad.

I found myself wanting to polarize the characters.  Little Bee seemed a flawless, innocent victim of war in Nigeria and unfair treatment in England.  Sarah, along with her late husband Andrew, seemed driven solely by selfishness and indulgence.

It’s Sarah’s late husband, Andrew, whose conscious causes him to reflect on his selfish actions and contemplate his life.  Flashbacks cause the reader to reflect along with the characters.

  • When events cause you to really see yourself, do you like what you see? Is redemption possible after you’ve made a mistake?
  • What will you sacrifice for a stranger? What will you sacrifice for a loved one? Are your answers different?  Should they be?

I was initially drawn into the story by allusions to events in Sarah & Little Bee’s past that were gradually revealed throughout the book.  But without realizing it, I grew attached to Little Bee, Sarah, and Andrew as I discovered their growth and development as they choose to sacrifice for one another.  The result was a truly moving story and characters I was sad to part from.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

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