The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Sue Monk Kidd's ravishing debut novel has stolen the hearts of reviewers and readers alike with its strong, assured voice. Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily's fierce-hearted "stand-in mother," Rosaleen, insults three of the town's fiercest racists, Lily decides they should both escape to Tiburon, South Carolina--a town that holds the secret to her mother's past. There they are taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters who introduce Lily to a mesmerizing world of bees, honey, and the Black Madonna who presides over their household. This is a remarkable story about divine female power and the transforming power of love--a story that women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.
I read this a few weeks back and enjoyed it. I'm aware that it's been made into a film and naturally I haven't seen it yet. Put another book inspired movie on my TBW list. The book was well written and I thought all of the characters were familiar but I grew up in the South, in Georgia just across the state line from South Carolina, so they were familiar to me at least. Familiar meaning that I felt a connection to all of them. Some have said this book is overflowing with stereotyping but I would have to disagree. I think it's authentic to the time and location.
It is a coming of age tale but I didn't really get that feel throughout the book to be honest. There's a bit of beekeeping thrown in, some obvious aspects of the racial tension of the times, teenage rebellion, a genuine love story, and plenty of mothering in this book. I think at the heart of the story is the importance of mothers, be it natural or otherwise. If you read it, I think you'll see what I mean. I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't read this. It's a good, quick read.
Check out http://www.suemonkkidd.com/ for her other books and more.