Monday, April 26, 2010

Little Bee by Chris Cleave

Reviewed by Chioma

Published: 2008

It's about: The back of the book is insistent that I don't tell anyone "what happens. The magic is in how the story unfolds". I don't necessarily think that is true. But I will try to keep my summary concise. It's the modern-day story of a Nigerian teenager girl and a British woman whose lives collide on a beach in Nigeria two years before the book takes place. Their lives intersect again. The book is about the events that occurred two-years before and how it affected their lives afterward.

I thought: I did not think it was as "magical" and "wonderful" as all the other reviews I saw before I read the book. It was definitely a fascinating, sad story. But it wasn't as charmingly original as I thought it would be. (But perhaps I had high expectations because everyone else I know has raved about it). It was a tragic story with glimmers of hope. The writing is beautiful and it's a book that stayed with me even after I was done reading it. It made me question myself and whether I would make the same decisions as the characters in it. There was one storyline (an affair) that I did not like and I think it took away from the character involved in it and was a distraction from the main story. The book would have been enough without that storyline.

Verdict: In-between! It's not really one that I'd want to re-read, but I do think it would make for an interesting book club read.

Reading Recommendations: Don't read it if you're feeling depressed! Read it with someone else so you can discuss it.

Warnings: Lots of language, but not gratuitously. There's a sex scene that's not too descriptive. There is also sexual violence and a murder that is described in some detail. It's a very mature book with heavy subject matters.

Favorite excerpts:
Sad words are just another beauty. A sad story means, this storyteller is alive. The next thing you know, something fine will happen to her, something marvelous, and then she will turn around and smile.

This is how we lived, happily, and without hope. I was very young then, and I did not miss having a future because I did not know I was entitled to one.

I could not stop talking because now I had started my story, it wanted to be finished. We cannot choose where to start and stop. Our stories are the tellers of us.

Wouldn't that be funny, if the oil rebels were playing U2 in their jungle camps, and the government soldiers were playing U2 in their trucks. I think everyone was killing everyone else and listening to the same music... That is a good trick about this world, Sarah. No one likes each other, but everyone likes U2.