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The Secret Life of Beesby Sue Monk Kidd
Synopses & Reviews
"The bees came the summer of 1964, the summer I turned fourteen and my life went spinning off into a whole new orbit, and I mean whole new orbit. Looking back on it now, I want to say the bees were sent to me. I want to say they showed up like the angel Gabriel appearing to the Virgin Mary, setting events in motion I could never have guessed." So begins the story of Lily Melissa Owens, a plucky girl, rich in humor despite heart wrenching circumstances. Living on a peach farm in South Carolina with her harsh, unyielding father, her entire life has been shaped around one devastating, though blurred, memory- the afternoon her mother was killed. Four at the time, she remembers innocently picking up the gun. And, she has her father's eyewitness account of the gun firing. People remind her it was an accident, yet she's inhabited by a torturous guilt. Lily's only real companion is Rosaleen, a tender, but fierce-hearted black woman who cooks, cleans and acts as her "stand-in mother."
South Carolina in 1964 is a place and time of seething racial divides. When violence explodes one summer afternoon, and Rosaleen is arrested and beaten, Lily is desperate, not only to save Rosaleen, but to flee a life she can no longer endure. Calling upon her colorful wits and uncommon daring, she breaks Rosaleen out of jail and the two of them take off, runaway-fugitives conjoined in an escape that quickly turns into Lily's quest for the truth about her mother's life.
Following a trail left ten years earlier, Lily and Rosaleen end up in the home of three bee-keeping sisters. No ordinary women, the sisters revere a Black Madonna and tend a unique brand of female spirituality that reaches back to the time of slavery. As Lily's life becomes deeply entwined with theirs, she is irrevocably altered. In a mesmerizing world of bees and honey, amid the strength and power of wise women, Lily journeys through painful secrets and shattering betrayals, finding her way to the single thing her heart longs for most.
Learn more about Sue Monk Kidd at SueMonkKidd.com.
"In this gem of a first novel, Sue Monk Kidd creates a charmed Southern place, a bee farm in Tiburon, S.C., and its eccentric yet endearing inhabitants, the black Boatwright sisters (other wise known as the 'calendar girls' May, June, and August). The main character, Lily Owens, is a fourteen-year-old white runaway who finds safe haven with these nurturing honey producing women as she tries to escape a violent father and confused, haunting memories of her past. Lily encounters a world of strong women who embrace her and mother her back to life and a future of promise and hope. Rich in symbolism and feminine adaptations of devout religious practices, Kidd uses the bee metaphor to craft a captivating story of self-discovery, shared pains and joys. Acclaimed for such insightful nonfiction as When the Heart Waits, Kidd the novelist promises to be equally noteworthy." Reviewed by Andrew Witmer, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)
"Sue Monk Kidd is an extraordinary storyteller. Beautifully written." Ursula Hegi
"Sue Monk Kidd's eccentric, inventive, and ultimately forgiving novel is reminscent of the work of Reynolds Price in its ability to create a truly original Southern voice." Anita Shreve
"A wonderful novel about mothers and daughters and the transcendent power of love." Connie May Fowler
A wry, moving debut novel from a Stegner fellow and "one of the most gifted young writers around" (Lorrie Moore), Lay It on My Heart takes us through one unforgettable month in Charmaine Peake's thirteenth year as she comes to understand the complicated strength of mothers, the trials of faith, and the life-changing power of a true friend.
It's summer in Kentucky, the low ceiling of August pressing down on Charmaine Peake and the town of East Winder. Charmaine and her mother get along better with a room between them, but they've been forced by circumstances to relocate to a tiny trailer by the river. The last of a line of local holy men, Charmaine's father has turned from prophet to patient, his revelation lost in the clarifying haze of medication. Her sure-minded grandmother has suffered a stroke. At church, where she has always felt most certain, Charmaine is tested when she uncovers that her archrival, a sanctimonious missionary kid, carries a dark, confusing secret. Suddenly her life can be sorted into what she wishes she knew and what she wishes she didn't.
A moving, hilarious portrait of mothers and daughters, Lay It on My Heart brings us into the heart of a family weathering the toughest patch of their lives. But most of all, it marks out the seemingly unbearable realities of growing up, the strength that comes from finding real friendship, and the power of discovering—and accepting—who you are.
This piercing, sly debut novel tells the story of one unforgettable month in a Kentucky girls thirteenth year. Charmaine Peakes prophet father has been committed to a psychiatric institution. Her mother, forced to rent out their house and move them down to a trailer on the river, wont stop telling Charmaine things she doesnt want to hear—from marital details and middle-aged doubts to uncomfortable preoccupations with Charmaines changing body. A sanctimonious missionary kid has taken over her real bedroom, where Charmaine discovers his stash of strange and questionable photos. She is being tested at every turn: Where will her choices take her? And her faith? She tries to pray ceaselessly as her father taught, but with so much upheaval, even God seems to have changed.
Like the beloved Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Lay It on My Heart unleashes Southern humor on the effects of a parents mental illness. It brings us into the heart of a family weathering the toughest patch in their lives. But most of all, it marks out the seemingly unbearable realities of adolescence and the power that comes from discovering—and accepting—who you are. A moving, hilarious portrayal of the relationship between mothers and daughters, this book fulfills Angela Pneumans promise as “one of the most astonishingly talented writers today”(Julie Orringer).
About the Author
Sue Monk Kidd, author of the highly acclaimed memoirs The Dance of the Dissident Daughter and When the Heart Waits, has won a Poets & Writers award, a Katherine Anne Porter Award, and a Bread Loaf scholarship. Two of her short stories--including an excerpt from The Secret Life of Bees--were selected as notable stories in Best American Short Stories. The Secret Life of Bees was nominated for the prestigious Orange Prize for fiction in England.
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