Ambassador of Books ~ Book Club Madam ~ Blogger Gal

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Little Bee

Little Bee
by Chris Cleave
266 pages


*** Why Did I Read This? ***

LITTLE BEE, by Chris Cleave, is my book club's choice for June. I nominated this book for three reasons. First, the cover caught my attention. Isn't it just gorgeous? I'm not really picky about book covers - inside the book is what is important - but sometimes a good one really stands out. The second reason I nominated this book was the summary provided by the publisher.
WE DON'T WANT TO TELL YOU TOO MUCH ABOUT THIS BOOK.

It is a truly special story and we don't want to spoil it.

Nevertheless, you need to know something, so we will just say this:

It is extremely funny, but the African beach scene is horrific.

The story starts there, but the book doesn't.

And it's what happens afterward that is most important.

Once you have read it, you'll want to tell everyone about it. When you do, please don't tell them what happens either. The magic is in how it unfolds.
That really got me ... how 'bout you? And my final reason for nominating this book was the video of the author that you can watch at Amazon.com here. All those things combined to put this book right at the top of my TBR list. And it worked, because 8 of the gals in the book club voted to read this.


*** So, What's It About? ***


Do you really think I'm going to give it all away after that lovely plea from the publisher?! Not this girl ... at least, not publicly. Here's what I will say: This story has to do with the horrors of war, the refugee system in Britain, and the connections between people. If you want to know more before deciding whether or not to read it, feel free to email me (there's a link to my email through my profile) and I'll give you more info. But I'm not going to post details here because it will ruin it for those who don't want to know. And to be honest, after reading it myself, I'm glad I didn't know more than I did.


*** Did I Like It? ***


Oh yes, I LOVED it. The writing in this book is beautiful. I was completely caught up in the story, in the images, in the anecdotes, in every part of this book. The story is horrible and heartbreaking in parts but it is written in such a way that is doesn't feel heavy or burdensome to read. It is light and funny and wonderful ... and very, very real.

I could go on and on about how much I loved this book, about the passages that stuck out to me, but I won't. I'm sure that in the coming months this book will get lots of attention in the blogosphere and that you'll probably get sick of hearing about it after a while. So let me be the first to tell you that all the hype you eventually hear is true - this is a VERY GOOD BOOK. Make the time to read it ... you won't regret it.


*** Other Reviews? ***


I'm really looking forward to discussing this with my book club on June. 16th. I can't wait to see what the rest of the gals thought of it. I'll be posting a recap of the meeting on my book club's blog - I'll let you know when it goes up.

I did a search of my Google Reader to find other reviews of this book and I only came up with a few:
  • Whimpulsive - her review contains lots more details about the plot than mine but it is spoiler-free
  • Lesley's Book Nook - she says this book reminds her of Barbara Kingsolver's THE POISONWOOD BIBLE - that is one of my all-time favorite books and I can definitely see the similarities
  • Owl's Feathers - includes several lengthy quotes that really give you a feel for the language in this book
If you've reviewed it please let me know in the comments and I'll add your link here.


*** An Excerpt ***


To give you a taste of this book I'm going to transcribe the first two paragraphs here. Enjoy.
Most days I wish I was a British pound coin instead of an African girl. Everyone would be pleased to see me coming. Maybe I would visit you for the weekend and then suddenly, because I am fickle like that, I would visit with the man from the corner shop instead - but you would not be sad because you would be eating a cinnamon bun, or drinking a cold Coca-Cola from the can, and you would never think of me again. We would be happy, like lovers who met on holiday and forgot each other's names.

A pound coin can go wherever it thinks it will be safest. It can cross deserts and oceans and live the sound of gunfire and the bitter smell of burning thatch behind. When it feels warm and secure it will turn around and smile at you, the way my big sister Nkiruka used to smile at the men in our village in the short summer after she was a girl but before she was really a woman, and certainly before the evening my mother took her to a quiet place for a serious talk.
So ... what did you think?!

[Update: I forgot to mention where I first heard about this book. It was at ReadingGroupGuides.com here.]

23 comments:

Jen - devourer of books said...

I've had this book since January (I got an ARC for free w/ purchase from a bookstore) and every time I read a review I kick myself for not having read it yet. Soon, I swear!

bermudaonion said...

I bought this book a while ago and haven't had a chance to read it yet. After your review, I'm really anxious to get to it.

Literary Feline said...

I was surprised to come home yesterday and find a copy of this one waiting for me. I hadn't requested a copy, but who am I to question the book gods? After reading your review, I'm even more looking forward to reading it. It sounds like it will be good.

Dreamybee said...

My, that is intriguing-all of it, the publisher's summary, your review, and the excerpt! I've managed to not put this book on my TBR list up 'til now, but *sigh* now I think I'm going to have to add it!

Heather J. said...

Jen + bermuda + feline - You all MUST read this book and let me know what you think!!!

Dreamybee - You and usually agree on books so I think you'd really enjoy this one.

SuziQoregon said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed it as much as I did. It's definitely one of my top books of the year. Will be interested to hear how your book club meeting goes. I think this would be a great book club book. There are tons of things worth discussing in this one.

Ti said...

My book group has been talking about Little Bee as well. I am guessing it will end up on our reading list for next year. I'd be interested in whether or not your group enjoyed it.

I love the cover. It's different and it does catch the eye ;)

Heather J. said...

SuziQ - I'm thinking that this will be in MY annual top ten as well. My club is discussing it on June 14th and I'll have a recap post up shortly after. I hope you'll come back and check it out!

Ti - I can't see how this would fail to be a hit at book club, but you know I'll post a recap so stay tuned. :)

Amy said...

I liked it, but I didn't love it, but you'll hear more from me later!

chartroose said...

Yep, this will go on my TBR list for sure!

Chris said...

Well I'm just going to have to go put this right on my wishlist right now so that I can find out what it's about!

softdrink said...

That is an awesome summary from the publisher! Off to add this to my list...

violetcrush said...

Sounds great and LOVE the cover, it's really attractive.

Heather J. said...

Amy - Can't wait to hear your thoughts at book club!


chartroose, Chris, and softdrink - I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. As I said, I think the writing is gorgeous.

violetcrush - Just my opinion, but I think this is one of the best covers I've seen in quite some time ... and I'm not a "cover" kind of girl. :)

marie said...

Heather ~ I seldom read books these days BUT I've decided that I'm going to read this one!
Thank you for all the tempting tidbits!

Alyce said...

This sounds great, and I'm totally curious about it now, so I've added it to my list.

Heather J. said...

marie - I hope you enjoy it, but either way I'd love to hear your thoughts once you read it.

Alyce - So glad I piqued your interest!

Dave said...

Heather, sounds like a great book. I'm glad you did not give too much away. It's hard to comprehend the horrors of the civil wars in Africa. I read What Is the What last year and the story still haunts me.

Les said...

Great review, Heather! Thanks for the shout-out to my review. I've had great success hand-selling Little Bee at work. I'll be anxious to see what your book club thinks of the novel.

Heather J. said...

Dave - On the author's website (www.chriscleave.com) he recommends a few books that could be read in conjunction with Little Bee - A Long Way Gone, and Human Cargo. I'm sure What Is the What would be another good suggestion.

Les - Thanks for stopping by. I was glad to see that at least a few other people out there had actually read this book. I'm really looking forward to my book club discussion of it!

longbrakeliving said...

I just finished this a few days ago and really enjoyed it. The writing is beautiful, and I really enjoyed the ending. I liked that it felt real -- everything really could have happened just like Chris Cleave wrote it. That said, I'm not sure the "secrecy" about the plot is needed. I think it helps build interest in the book, but I think the book would have been just as wonderful if I went into it knowing mroe about what it was about.

Heather J. said...

longbrakeliving - So glad you enjoyed it! You're right, the secrecy is mostly about creating more hype, but it worked for me - I didn't want to know more than I did. Lately I've been reading too many reviews before reading a book and I've found that I often know too much - this was a nice change for me.

damnedconjuror said...

It's a gorgeous cover. I've seen this in shops etc but never really made attention to it. I'm going to take a look at it next time I see it. Good review.

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