Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Little Bee

I confess, I’ve never been much of a reader. But I’ve been reading for pleasure a lot more lately, and I actually really like it. It gives me a nice break from school-related reading, yet I don’t feel guilty about it because I know it’s good to read as much as possible.

On Sunday evening I finished “Little Bee,” by Chris Cleaves. Cleaves requests that readers don’t disclose too much of the plot, but it’s about a Nigerian girl – Little Bee – and a British woman – Sarah O’Rourke – who meet on one fateful day – a day that forever changes both of their lives.

The novel alternates between the two women’s points of view – both of which are relatable and well developed. Usually when I read novels with multiple points of view I side with one of them, but in this case I found myself identifying with both women. I was just as excited to hear from Little Bee as I was to hear from Sarah, and the multiple voices added to the suspense and foreshadowing.

It took me just one week to read “Little Bee,” which is impressive for a graduate student with three jobs and two hours of commuting daily. And it wasn’t an easy read, either. It was the type of reading that must be done in a quiet room with little distractions. I even had to read some of it out loud. The language is rich and descriptive, and just really beautiful. I did need to have a dictionary close by, though.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a big fan of fiction, but “Little Bee” is different because it’s based on the World that we actually live in. The plot is based on real events and people – real third world countries, real detention centers, real oil companies and real refugees. The scenes of “Little Bees” depict things that really happen, and it’s heartbreaking. Although it’s fiction, it shows a world that exists so far away from here.

There are scenes in the book that I could in no way relate to, but I could always relate to Little Bee. That’s what makes it so compelling. “Little Bee” sheds a lot of light into the human experience, and how different, yet the same we all are. On one level, the novel made me so appreciative of the life I’ve been given, and all the freedoms, luxuries, and safety that come with it. But it also showed that we can’t escape pain and hardship and being human, no matter what world we’re from.

All-in-all, I highly suggest reading “Little Bee.”

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