Michael Barcenas, August 19, 2015 (view all comments by Michael Barcenas)
Beautiful book. This book brings you on an emotional journey. It brings tears to your eyes at one point and a smile on your face at another. Personally one of my favorite books I've ever read this year. The way Sue Monk Kidd plays with words is absolutely phenomenal. She sucks you into the life of the characters and leaves you speechless. By the end of the book you are emotionally drained. I would recommend this book to any one of my friends and family.
Amy BookGirl, November 4, 2014 (view all comments by Amy BookGirl)
I resisted reading this story for a long time--estrogen and honey just aren't my normal flavors--but I'm very glad I relented. This was a over-too-soon lovely read that, much like honey, seeps into the cracks of your soul and sticks with you.
The story is set in South Carolina in the 1960’s, during the heat of the civil rights movement. It is a story of a young girl named Lily Owens who is tormented by the blurry memory of her mother’s accidental death at her hands. She lives with a father she dubbed, T. Ray, whose only claim to genius is inventing creative way to punish her, such as kneeling on grits piled on the floor for hours. Kneeling on grits!?
The bees are a character of their own accord. They appear in her room at night and disappear when she attempts to show her father. One assumes that his ambient malevolence drove them back into the safety of her walls. Eventually Lily captures one in a jar to prove it to him. Awash in guilty feelings, she tries to release it, but the bee spins and spins it the jar. She can’t understand why it won’t leave. Then in a crux moment where she must face her father’s impending wrath, she notices the bee is gone. She realizes that there’s no lid on her jar either. She bails out of her father’s house, breaks her nanny Rosaleen out of the hospital where she’s being treated before being sent back to jail, (Rosaleen was indicted for dumping her tobacco-spit from her jar on some white men’s shoes--they deserved it.) before fleeing to Tiburon, South Carolina. Which is a name Lily found written on the back of a block of wood, sporting the a label for Black Madonna Honey, she found among her mother’s things.
This scrap of her mother’s belongings brings Lily and Rosaleen to the home of three benevelovent black women who are, yep-you guessed it, beekeepers. Here Lily learns to send love to the bees, reconcile her past, collect honey, learn to trust, make beeswax candles, belong to something bigger than herself, cool bees on hot days, the truth of her mother’s story, cook honey, even understand her father, and finally finds the home she craved.
This is a heartfelt story that also has teeth. It challenges our perceptions and changes our lives in a honey flavored way.
bookcrossingaddict, December 6, 2011 (view all comments by bookcrossingaddict)
Set during the civil rights era, The Secret Life of Bees is a coming-of-age story about a young girl as she stuggles to make sense of her past, her present and the changing world around her. Though racial issues form a backdrop to the story and do trigger some events, this is not the main theme of this novel. Rather this book is about journeys - physical journeys, emotional journeys and the journey of understanding that happens to us all as we grow up. I highly recommend this book for adults and young adults alike.
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MM, September 14, 2011 (view all comments by MM)
This is a book I find myself returning to time and time again to warm my heart and feed my spirit. The book describes the secret life of bees in rich and mesmerizing detail, but also is about the secret life of women, and the female kinship which transcends ethnicity and age. From the first time I read it I felt myself with old friends, as did my real-life friends, and I strongly believe there is a little of Lily, August, June, and May in each of us.
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emmejo, October 11, 2010 (view all comments by emmejo)
Lily Owens' mother died when she was four and she has been raised by a violent father and their hired help; mostly Rosaleen, a strong-willed black woman who is determined not to let the racists in their town stop her from doing what she has a right to. This attitude leads her to fight back against the town's 3 deepest racists, and she ends up badly beaten and in jail. Lily decides she's had enough, springs Rosaleen, and they set off to a town whose name is written on one of the few belongings Lily has of her mother's. They are taken in by three beekeeping sisters and Lily learns not just about beekeeping, but about what it means to have a family.
I devoured this book in a couple hours. Once I started I just couldn't put it down, the characters had such a hold on me. They seemed so real and fleshed-out, like people who actually might exist. The writing was graceful and unobtrusive, a smooth flow of words that conveyed information clearly without being wordy.
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by Ursula Hegi,
"Sue Monk Kidd is an extraordinary storyteller. Beautifully written."
by Anita Shreve,
"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."
by Connie May Fowler,
"A wonderful novel about mothers and daughters and the transcendent power of love."
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).
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