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Little Bee: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Chris Cleave
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,060 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.99
Kindle Price: $9.86
You Save: $6.13 (38%)
Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc

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Book Description

The lives of a sixteen-year-old Nigerian orphan and a well-off British woman collide in this page-turning #1 New York Times bestseller and book club favorite from Chris Cleave.

We don’t want to tell you too much about this book. It is a truly special story and we don’t want to spoil it. Nevertheless, you need to know something, so we will just say this: It is extremely funny, but the African beach scene is horrific. The story starts there, but the book doesn’t. And it’s what happens afterward that is most important. Once you have read it, you’ll want to tell everyone about it. When you do, please don’t tell them what happens either. The magic is in how it unfolds.

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Editorial Reviews Review

Amazon Best of the Month, February 2009: The publishers of Chris Cleave's new novel "don't want to spoil" the story by revealing too much about it, and there's good reason not to tell too much about the plot's pivot point. All you should know going in to Little Bee is that what happens on the beach is brutal, and that it braids the fates of a 16-year-old Nigerian orphan (who calls herself Little Bee) and a well-off British couple--journalists trying to repair their strained marriage with a free holiday--who should have stayed behind their resort's walls. The tide of that event carries Little Bee back to their world, which she claims she couldn't explain to the girls from her village because they'd have no context for its abundance and calm. But she shows us the infinite rifts in a globalized world, where any distance can be crossed in a day--with the right papers--and "no one likes each other, but everyone likes U2." Where you have to give up the safety you'd assumed as your birthright if you decide to save the girl gazing at you through razor wire, left to the wolves of a failing state. --Mari Malcolm

From Bookmarks Magazine

Chris Cleave's Little Bee works because the unflinching, brutal story balances an outwardly political motive with rich, deep character development (and even some welcome humor), focusing narrowly on events before broadening to reveal some larger truths. Cleave's firm grasp of human nature and his unsparing disdain for injustice allow him to articulate lives as different as those of Little Bee and the less-likeable Sarah; both characters, though, are unforgettable. Comparisons between Cleave and fellow Brits Ian McEwan and John Banville are apt. The only dissent came from the San Francisco Chronicle, which took issue with the narrative voices and the rushed pace of the story. All others agreed, however, that Cleave's sophomore effort is, as the Chicago Sun-Times succinctly put it, "a loud shout of talent."
Copyright 2009 Bookmarks Publishing LLC

Product Details

  • File Size: 2769 KB
  • Print Length: 290 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0385665318
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (February 10, 2009)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001QWDRF6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,651 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1,929 of 1,959 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For heaven's sake ignore the blurb! May 13, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
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.
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368 of 396 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What Happened on the Beach?! January 2, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"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.
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210 of 225 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Other Hand February 28, 2009
By Syke27
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.
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76 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars buyer beware! August 31, 2009
By bunky
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!
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor Research & portrayal of Nigeria August 17, 2012
I read this book after hearing rave reviews from my friends. They were especially excited about me reading it because I am Nigerian, and I'm always one for reading books that deal with or originate from my country.

All in all however, I was very disappointed with this story. As a Nigerian, I feel that the book demonstrated little research. Any African country's name could have been inserted into this book and it would not have made a difference. Knowing that the author had lived in Cameroon, I had hoped for something different. In fact, he would have done better to come up with a fictional African country or perhaps just an unidentified one. Aside from the Niger delta crisis backdrop, (which was not fully fleshed out at all) the only indication that this book was dealing with Nigeria was the occasional "wahala" or the author stating it. Many reviewers gushed about how they loved little bee's accent and her use of "Weh", I however was confused. What does Weh mean? I have never heard a Nigerian utter that in my life, and I asked other Nigerians to verify. What I love about reading Nigerian literature is that I can hear the story as well as read it. Ours is an oral culture and authors like Chimamanda Adichie exemplify this by coloring their writing with Nigerian idioms and words which allow you to hear Nigeria as well as read about it. I could not hear Nigeria in this story. I heard a mediocre attempt to sound African, much like the generic deep accents that pass as African in Hollywood.

Failing to do research on a country like Nigeria is extremely problematic. Black people and people of color in general already have the unfortunate burden of being represented by one image, so this book serves to reinforce the notion of Africa as a savage jungle.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I really enjoyed this story
I really enjoyed this story. It was a interesting look at the world through the eyes of an immigrant and refugee. I like the vernacular of Little Bee. A good read.
Published 3 days ago by Loves2read
4.0 out of 5 stars This book is wonderful. But it is NOT funny
This book is wonderful. But it is NOT funny. Even the funny bits are not really funny. There are moments of joy, great joy, but lots of misery. It is a very complex story. Read more
Published 4 days ago by magnoliablonde
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book!
Great Book!
Published 5 days ago by Maxim Gimelshteyn
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read, but a hard one...
This book emotionally eviscerated me. It was a terrific read, but one I can only do once.
Published 10 days ago by Denise B. Orsini
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling
Chris Cleave paints with words. Not for the faint of heart, although the message of the novel is one of hope and strength.
Published 11 days ago by PhxAvidReader1
1.0 out of 5 stars pbbsstt! (giant raspberry)
i'm irritated i wasted my precious time on this book. i'm not philosophical enough for metaphors or looking for a deeper meaning. i'm just looking for a good read. Read more
Published 13 days ago by S. L. Lockwood
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed and tricked.
The book started out well - beautiful language and metaphors - and I was inspired to read it and to write like Cleave. Read more
Published 13 days ago by Sana
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
One of my favorite books. Definitely something to read to put your own life and blessings into perspective.
Published 16 days ago by Melinda
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful
Language and voice are clear and true. Each character feels transformed by the other. No refuge for either but perhaps peace for both. They both made a difference.
Published 18 days ago by Laura Burns
3.0 out of 5 stars Little Bee Review
I was not overly impressed with this book and I kind of wish I had spent the time reading a different one.
Published 21 days ago by Courtney stoner
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More About the Author

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 or on his website at

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spoiler alert!
Well, I think the ending was that she resigned to her fate, knowing that she has found a way to transcend her tragic story through Charlie. I don't think it matters how in fact she dies, or if she gets thrown into a Nigerian prison for the rest of her life. I think Cleave was trying to make the... Read More
Jun 23, 2010 by Presley White |  See all 20 posts
The End
Early in the novel Little Bee tells us "A sad story means, this storyteller is alive" -- since the story is told in the past tense, this suggests to me that she, at least, survives the beach...
Jan 8, 2011 by Lora Gardner |  See all 16 posts
Kindle version
I think the kindle books are becoming more expensive because people are willing to pay for the convenience of the kindle. I have noticed how alot of the prices are going up hope this changes might have to consider swithching back to books unless it changes
Mar 14, 2011 by Erika |  See all 5 posts
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