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Bee and Jacky Paperback – March 1, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

When Bee and her older brother Jacky were younger, they used to play a game in the woods near their grandparents' house. It was a war game in which Bee always played the wounded, and Jacky always played the savior: Bee "waited for Jacky to save her. Jacky called for more backup on his walkie-talkie, screamed out orders to the medics.... Then, after thrashing through the underbrush to get to where Bee had fallen, he dragged her to safety. He told her she would be all right, whatever wounds she had envisioned, however much blood had been lost."

Now it's 1975. Bee and Jacky are 14 and 17, and the family is preparing to return to the grandparents' home for a visit. But Jacky refuses to go, and Bee can't envision going back without her big brother. So the teens stay home alone for the weekend. After reminiscing about the time spent at her grandparents', Bee suddenly remembers that the scenes she and Jacky used to play out were actually much more than a game--part of the routine included Jacky lying on top of her and rocking back and forth. Bee's realization brings with it a flood of confusion and horror, all hauntingly displayed in the young girl's vivid hallucinations: "She saw a network of roots traveling across up and down [her back], balls and knots pushing up, hard and gnarled.... [She] ran her fingers into her hair, squeezed it at the roots until pine needles rained out and delicately fell around her feet, onto the bedspread."

Carolyn Coman, author of What Jamie Saw, a National Book Award finalist and Newbery Honor book, portrays Bee's conflicting emotions--anger, shame, love, fear, and arousal--with exquisite grace and sparse, incisive prose. The ending is far from that of a made-for-TV movie about incest--there is no tidy summary, no panoramic cut to the sun rising on the suburbs, but there is transformation here, and forgiveness, and light. --Brangien Davis --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Coman's (What Jamie Saw) latest is the literary equivalent of a Diane Arbus photograph: it presents a sharp, shocking picture of pathology, but leaves it to the audience to imagine the world beyond the frame. Bee is 13 and her brother, Jacky, is 17. Their parents?an ineffectual mother and a father damaged both physically and mentally from serving in Vietnam?go visit the father's parents over Labor Day weekend, and Jacky and Bee are left alone. Jacky rapes a complicit Bee, who suddenly recalls years of similar molestation, evolving from their imaginary reenactments of their father's wartime exploits. As the weekend progresses, Bee begins to dissociate. She hallucinates; subconsciously or otherwise, she makes an overture to Jacky; she wanders outside naked. Coman's prose is as trenchant as ever, but she doesn't give readers much to go on. Bee's descent occurs so rapidly and violently that the impact verges on the sensationalistic. In both scope and length, the work seems closer to a short story than a novel. Like the subjects of Arbus photos, Bee and Jacky remain Other, figures to gape at but whose experience creates a gulf between them and the reader. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 104 pages
  • Publisher: Boyds Mills Press (March 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932425373
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932425376
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 5 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,573,365 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
Haunting and spare, this book is lovely and sad and disturbing all at once. The characters Bee and Jacky are drawn so vividly, they will stay in your memory long after you've read the last page. Sophisticated readers will love the fact that this book makes you think (and think, and think).
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
This was a very moving and lyrical book. It's unusual style of writing made it difficult to read at times but it was well worth the effort. It presented Bee's story without moralizing leaving the reader to draw their own conclusions. Just because a previous reader found this book to be disturbing doesn't mean it is bad. It is an intensely disturbing book that will change the way you see sexual abuse and insest.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By michelebarr@uswest.net on July 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
I'm not really sure what the author is trying to say, or to whom she is writing. The average 14-year-old, attempting to read this book, is going to be a little confused, I think.There is a lot of well-described pain,but very little explanation as to how Bee's situation began, and how her feelings became everyday enough for her to accept them as normal. Granted, the book is disturbing, and I admire the author's passionate understanding of an incest victim's pain and confusion.
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By BeatleBangs1964 VINE VOICE on February 25, 2015
Format: Paperback
Bee, 14 and her brother Jacky, 17 are two tragic figures. In fact their whole family is made up of tragic figures. Their father is a Vietnam Veteran who obtained employment at a local Chevrolet plant thanks to the VA where he was a patient. Their mother is a shadow figure who does nothing to help or protect her children.

Jacky is out of control. He is cruel to their father who is plainly suffering from mental trauma and not in a position to make good decisions. Jacky swears at and bullies every member in that sick household. He sexually abuses Bee to the point where she appears to have trouble distinguishing reality from fantasy. As for their mother, she is nothing more than a shadow on the wall. A skimpy little book yes, but filled with sorrow and disappointment as well. I cannot in good conscience recommend this one.
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