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Little Bee: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Chris Cleave
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (894 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.99
Kindle Price: $8.45
You Save: $7.54 (47%)
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.

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: 2400 KB
  • Print Length: 308 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1416589643
  • 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:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,629 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1,848 of 1,874 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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353 of 379 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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206 of 220 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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71 of 76 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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102 of 115 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed over Little Bee September 4, 2010
Spoiler Alert...

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.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great characters, highly readable
I really enjoyed this book - mostly because the characters were really believable and varied. The language was superb and some of the imagery was outstanding. Read more
Published 1 day ago by JemimaLRF
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read I could not put it down.
I had to read this book for a class and could not stop reading. Going to recommend to all my friends. The ending took my breath away!
Published 1 day ago by PurpleReign
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Read!
This was such an amazing read. It definitely challenges you to look at yourself and really appreciate what you've got. Take nothing for granted. Read more
Published 21 days ago by Makina Perry
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book with a strong message
This story was heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. Every immigrant has a story and many will break your heart. This book will make you want to know those stories.
Published 22 days ago by B. Glim
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent book.. but wouldn't recommend.
Everything these days is a New York Times best seller... This book is close to average to bad, only read this book for school, save your money and buy another book.
Published 23 days ago by azn4life173
5.0 out of 5 stars Little Bee
This is the book to read! It has history mixed with almost true facts. A new author for me to enjoy
Published 27 days ago by perch
4.0 out of 5 stars Very intersting tale
Well written and I loved the book although found the ending just a little weak.
Was interested in the history and the, bureaucracy showed as always just how foolish
rules... Read more
Published 29 days ago by Kindle Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Little Bee
I loved this book by Chris Cleve, the story of Little Bee is heartbreaking and wonderful at the same time.
Published 29 days ago by L. Bosslet
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Little Bee is a book my professor recommended to me. I didn’t pay much attention to the author or the back covered reading before I stared reading it. Read more
Published 1 month ago by kaitlynn
3.0 out of 5 stars An OK book.
For some reason this book wasn't as good as I thought it would be after the many people who told me to read it. I am glad I read it but I got bored with Batman.
Published 1 month ago by Darlene Hand
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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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