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Little Bee: A Novel Paperback – February 16, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 271 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (February 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416589643
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416589648
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (936 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,730 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com 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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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 twitter.com/chriscleave or on his website at chriscleave.com

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
5 star
320
4 star
229
3 star
185
2 star
121
1 star
81
See all 936 customer reviews
The ending of the book is not happy.
Cotyledon C.
This book was frustrating, annoying and unbelievable-a much better story could have been written around the character of Little Bee.
Mary Kay Hagerty
The characters are all interesting, and the story is compelling as well.
Matthew Smith

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1,899 of 1,927 people found the following review helpful By Tracy Rowan TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 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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366 of 393 people found the following review helpful By Mary Lins TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 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 224 people found the following review helpful By Syke27 on February 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
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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75 of 80 people found the following review helpful By bunky on August 31, 2009
Format: Paperback
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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114 of 128 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. Librarian on September 4, 2010
Format: Paperback
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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