Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication date: January 28, 2003
My rating: ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
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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 black "stand-in mother," Rosaleen, insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily decides to spring them both free. They escape to Tiburon, South Carolina--a town that holds the secret to her mother's past. Taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters, Lily is introduced to their mesmerizing world of bees and honey, and the Black Madonna. This is a remarkable novel about divine female power, a story women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.
I read this with my teen daughter for literature during her homeschooled sophomore year of high school. I think it was an excellent look into a troubling time in America and age-appropriate. Is it perfect? No. I'm certain a BIPOC teen may have trouble reading themselves into the pages of this history and we certainly need more representation in literature. But I think it did help my daughter get a more personal glimpse into that time. She calculated that Lily was two years younger than her (my daughter's) grandmother and that came as a shock to her. It opened the door to interesting conversations with her grandmother.
I had to slow my own reading down so I didn't outpace my daughter too much and accidentally give spoilers. It was engrossing and I would have read it quickly otherwise. We used the Brave Writer Slingshot to deep dive into the literature of the book and highly recommend it.
Author’s site: https://suemonkkidd.com/