Review: Little Bee — Chris Cleave

Read: 30
To Go: 70

Book List:
21. Why Men Lie — Linden MacIntyre
22. My Dear I Wanted to Tell You — Louisa Young
23. Phaedrus — Plato
24. The First Wife — Emily Barr
25. The Last Boyfriend — Nora Roberts
26. Love in the Time of Cholera — Gabriel Garcia Marquez
27. Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes — Kamal Al-Solaylee
28. Arranged — Catherine McKenzie
29. Bossypants — Tina Fey
30. Little Bee — Chris Cleave

Sarah Summers is enjoying a holiday on a Nigerian beach when a young girl named Little Bee crashes irrevocably into her life. All it takes is a brief and horrifying moment of crisis — a terrifying scene that no reader will forget. Afterwards, Sarah and Little Bee might expect never to see each other again. But Little Bee finds Sarah’s husband’s wallet in the sand, and smuggles herself on board a cargo vessel with his address in mind. She spends two years in detention in England before making her way to Sarah’s house, with what will prove to be devastating timing.

It’s sad that it’s taken me six months to get 30 per cent of the way through this challenge. I’m ridiculously, painfully behind and I’m starting to think I won’t be able to make it. Aaaaaaaah!

Anyway, Little Bee was an amazing book. I got it for free at the office and didn’t really expect much from it, but it just blew me away. I’m a little pressed for time to write this, so I’ll try to summarize quickly.

The blurb isn’t wrong — the way in which Little Bee and Sarah meet each other is one of the book’s most shocking scenes, and you’d be unlikely to forget in. But there are plenty more where that came from, which creates this simultaneously horrifying and tender story.

I think writing a “third world” or “developing world” story always has the tendency to make the book more patronizing than it is poignant, but Chris Cleave managed to sidestep it. The parts based in Nigeria were tragic, but there was also a sharp lambasting of the way the United Kingdom deals with refugees, which gave the story the balance it needed.

Also, the MVP award goes to Sarah’s son Charlie, who wears a Batman costume 24/7 and is obviously the cutest child to exist in literature, ever. He brought a touch of comic relief to an otherwise heavy story.

Next book: I need to find something short to read!

– Kelsey


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