Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle Reading App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Chris Cleave was born in London and spent his early years in Cameroon. He studied Experimental Psychology at Balliol College, Oxford. His debut novel, Incendiary, won a 2006 Somerset Maugham Award, was shortlisted for the 2006 Commonwealth Writers' Prize, and is now a feature film. His second novel, Little Bee, is an international bestseller with over 2 million copies in print. He lives in London with his wife and three children. Chris Cleave enjoys dialogue with his readers and invites all comers to introduce themselves on Twitter; he can be found at twitter.com/chriscleave or on his website at chriscleave.com
Honestly I don't know what people are thinking when they market books anymore. The blurb on this book would have you believe that it's not only a laugh riot -- except for the beach scene which is "horrific" -- but that it's so remarkably written and in some way so easy to spoil that it all but swears the reader to a code of silence. And in fact, it's none of those things. All those marketing ploys actually do a disservice to an excellent book and if I were the author, I'd hate it that my work was being so misrepresented.
Briefly, "Little Bee" is about a young Nigerian refugee whose very existence changes the lives of a group of English citizens in dramatic ways. It's a good story and well-written but it would be silly of me to say that I don't want to tell you more because I don't want to spoil it for you. That would feel like me saying "I have NO idea what this is about."
It's about sadness. Really. It's not funny, except perhaps in small details where you might find yourself smiling ruefully. It's a sad book filled with sad and often thoughtless people. It's about how we cover our sadness with layers of so-called civilization, wrap our fears in popular culture, and never ever have the opportunity to face any of it and learn to rise above. Little Bee knows how to rise above. She's known how to do it her whole life because there's nowhere to hide in her country. Poverty, abuse and death are common where she is from, and if you don't want them to destroy you, they must be transcended.
I read the first two chapters just waiting for the comedy to begin. I waited for the beach scene with a measure of anxiety. I waited for some enormous surprise which I would long to tell others, but would keep to myself out of a sense of reader's decency.Read more ›
"Little Bee" is the second novel by Chris Cleave and I will be purchasing his first novel as soon as I finish this review. Little Bee is a 16-year old refugee from Nigeria who is always looking for a suicidal option for "when the men come". Her character provides a unique and captivating narrative; by page three I cared about her, by page nine I knew she had terrible story to tell me and I dreaded it.
Cleave's skillful pace brings us along in measured doses to the horrible thing that happened on a beach in Nigeria. What do a 4-year old boy who thinks he's Batman, his widowed, 9-fingered, mother Sarah, and his anguished father, have to do with Little Bee? Not only are we propelled to read what happened on that beach...we are compelled to know what will happen next.
Alternating voices of Little Bee and Sarah circle around the beach story. This is great storytelling; skillful foreshadowing, the careful scattering of clues, building suspense and dread.
Little Bee's plight overlays a rich and disturbing subtext of broader issues such as the unfathomable abyss between first and third world countries, the dark politics of oil, the labyrinthine plight of refugees and insight into UK detention centers.
Cleave has given us a beautifully written, witty, heartbreaking, evocative, suspenseful and horrific novel.
I picked up the book "The Other Hand" by Chris Cleave on a layover at Heathrow airport because I had finished my previous book. I was not familiar with the author and the admitedly somewhat gimmicky jacket summary intrigued me. I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into. It turns out that this book (titled "Little Bee" in the US after the name of the main character) is one of the most engaging books I've read in some time.
The story unfolds quietly giving you snapshots into the lives of the different characters but without letting you in on the full plot. Some characters you barely get to admire before you leave behind as Little Bee moves on, others develop as the story goes (Sarah, for instance).
I found both the premise and the characters to be engaging and am somewhat surprised by some negative reviews melting the story down to a UK/Nigeria Colonial War sort or moral. If that is all you take from this book then you have missed it, entirely. You've missed Sarah and her son, you've missed Yevette from Jamaica and the girl with no name... and you've certainly missed Little Bee.
Again, fantastic book that I recommend to anyone looking for well-crafted prose with a personality.
Was this review helpful to you?
I ordered this title after reading "Little Bee" because I wanted more books by the author, Chris Cleave . Imagine my surprise to discover this book is the Great Brittan's title for the same novel!?!?!?! I would highly recommend either title to anyone who enjoys a great read. However, beware that they are the same book with different titles and jackets. No need to spend money on both!
I wanted to like Little Bee. The reviews for it are exceptional. Book List starred it, Amazon named it among their "February Best of the Month" picks, O Magazine fondly mentions it. I mean come on, Library Journal labels it "the next Kite Runner" for goodness sakes! I couldn't wait to be swept away. And I was... for the first couple of chapters. Little Bee's character came on very strong and distinct. I felt like I could pick her out of a crowd and guess what she was thinking. But I gradually started rolling my eyes and questioning plot details and characterization.
For example, Sarah's mom and sister are briefly mentioned; they come to her house after the funeral, but she begs them to leave her alone. There's no mention of their reaction to the fact that there is suddenly a Nigerian girl living at her house. ???
Also, according to the timeline description it seems that Charlie begins wearing the Batman costume before his father passes. It would make more sense if he began wearing it after the passing based on his reasons for wearing it. ???
And seriously, the cops caught Little Bee because she was at the scene of Charlie's near disappearance? Seriously?
Sarah's relationship with Lawrence is odd, Charlie draws conclusions unbelieving for a four year old, and the ending is rushed and unmoving. There's just this hokey feel to it that I couldn't get past.
This is the first time ever for me that I could tell that the author was not the same sex as his main characters, more so when it came to Sarah rather than Little Bee. The way Sarah thinks, the things she says, her observations, and even her interactions with her son just don't make sense. It is clear that Cleave failed to unearth his female voice.Read more ›