It’s 1964 and 14 year-old Lily Owens lives in South Carolina. Lily’s mother was killed when Lily was four years old and the only memory she has left of her is a blur from that day. Raised by a bitter father, and a sassy maid named Rosaleen, Lily’s mother becomes idealized in her mind. Her world shatters when she finds out her mother was only human after all. When Rosaleen offends some notorious racists in town, her arrest acts as a catalyst for Lily’s desire to run and hide. Lily performs a jail break, and she and Rosaleen head off on a journey of escape and self-discovery. They end up in a town called Tiburon, staying with three eccentric black beekeeping sisters. There Lily learns about her mother, herself, the Black Madonna, female kinship, and, of course–bees. This is a powerful story of love and loss, of friendship and family, and of female power and divinity.
I LOVED this book. I absolutely could not put it down. The descriptions were so vivid and realistic, I could see everything unfolding clearly in my mind’s eye. Each character was incredibly crafted–August and Lily are my favourites. In Lily’s narration it was plain that she was a teenager. The writing was so realistic–each belief and fear were so true to her age. The narrow scope of youth was so plain.
I LOVED IT. I laughed, I cried, I never wanted to put it away. The way that the characters grow throughout the novel–especially Lily–was so moving. You don’t just watch them grow, you grow right along with them.
I absolutely recommend this book to everyone! More realistically, I recommend this book to fiction lovers, especially women’s fiction lovers. The Secret Life of Bees is along the same lines as The Help. If you enjoyed that, you’ll likely enjoy this too.
Beth is the founder and editor of Fuelled by Fiction. She is a twenty-something east coast Canadian girl who loves writing about books and feminism.