- Paperback: 271 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Simon & Schuester Edition edition (2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781416589648
- ISBN-13: 978-1416589648
- ASIN: 1416589643
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,349 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,969 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Little Bee: A Novel Paperback – February 16, 2010
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"...[an] immensely readable and moving second novel... The character and voice of Little Bee reveal Cleave at his finest... An affecting story of human triumph." -- New York Times Book Review
"Book clubs in search of the next Kite Runner need look no further than this astonishing, flawless novel... Cleave (Incendiary) effortlessly moves between alternating viewpoints with lucid, poignant prose and the occasional lighter note. A tension-filled dramatic ending and plenty of moral dilemmas add up to a satisfying, emotional read." -- Library Journal
"Little Bee will blow you away....In restrained, diamond-hard prose, Cleave alternates between these two characters' points of view as he pulls the threads of their dark -- but often funny -- story tight. What unfolds between them...is both surprising and inevitable, thoroughly satisfying if also heart-rending." -- Washington Post
"Utterly enthralling page-turner...Novelist Cleave does a brilliant job of making both characters not only believable but memorable....These compelling voices grip the reader's heart and do not let go even after the book's hyper-tense final page. Little Bee is a harrowing and heartening marvel of a novel." -- Seattle Post-Intelligencer
"Every now and then, you come across a character in a book whose personality is so salient and whose story carries such devastating emotional force it's as if she becomes a fixed part of your consciousness. So it is with the charmingly named title character in Chris Cleave's brilliant and unforgettable Little Bee..." -- The Oregonian
"Stunning." -- People (Four Stars and a People Pick)
"Cleave has a Zola-esque ability to write big and deeply....[he] makes the reader think about political issues and care about his characters." -- USA Today
"The voice that speaks from the first page of Chris Cleave's Little Bee is one you might never have heard -- the voice of a smart, wary, heartsick immigrant scarred by the terrors of her past....Read this urgent and wryly funny novel for its insights into simple humanity, the force that can disarm fear." -- O Magazine
"...Little Bee is a loud shout of talent." -- Chicago Sun-Times
"Vividly memorable and provocative...heartwarming and heartbreaking...Cleave paces the story beautifully, lacing it with wit, compassion, and, even at the darkest moments, a searing ray of hope." -- Boston Globe
About the Author
Chris Cleave is the author of Everyone Brave is Forgiven, Gold, Incendiary, and the #1 New York Times bestseller Little Bee. He lives with his wife and three children in London, England. Visit him at ChrisCleave.com or on Twitter @ChrisCleave.
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Little Bee: A Novel is author Chris Cleave's second novel; the first that I've read. He takes the story back and forth between two points of view: Little Bee newly released from two years in an immigrant detention camp, and Sarah, newly widowed, lover of Lawrence, mother of four-year-old Charlie. The history of their relationship unfolds gradually, and the telling of it is beautiful but shocking. Such sad things happened in the past; surely the surviving and the telling will confer a redemptive grace? Oh, you want it to, you hope it will ...
Sarah, her husband, Lawrence, Little Bee--they all continue to make moral decisions, good and bad. Do good moral decisions insure good outcomes? No easy answer to that question will be found in Little Bee: A Novel. What you will find is lyrical writing and fine detailed characterizations. The currency of this novel is not tight plotting, but if you care to give your logical mind a few hours off and let the other part of your brain experience something unusual, this book may be for you. It's not a comforting read, but its rewards and challenges will stay with you. What would any of us do, in their shoes? I hope we never have to find out.
Linda Bulger, 2009
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.
Speaking of voice, Little Bee's chapters were much more convincing and enjoyable than Sarah's. The entire book written from Little Bee's point of view would have probably been a much better read.
I'm not giving this book only 1 star because it was too sad, or too graphic, or too haunting. It just fell flat. It wasn't convincing. All the ends didn't meet nor were all the i's dotted, t's crossed. It just didn't do it for me, and it is most certainly NOT the next Kite Runner. Good grief, it doesn't even compare. [close]
The title character, a Nigerian refugee in England, is a captivating and calmly insightful voice. Not to mention pretty amusing. In her attempt to find safety, she ends up at the door of Sarah, the editor of a fluffy women's magazine. Recently widowed, Sarah and her late husband Andrew have a histor with Little Bee that throws into a tailspin Sarah's normal notions of compassion and charity. Along for the ride is Sarah's four year old son, Charlie, a boy with a penchant for Batman. The two women, Sarah and Little Bee, spend most of the book trying to come to terms with and understand each other.
By the end of part four, I was sick and tired of it. What happens in part four? Well, if you've read the product description here or on the book or elsewhere, you'll know that there is mention of a tantalizingly horrific African beach scene. Said scene is, in fact, horrific, although not the worst I've read.
It also completely and totally deflates the novel.
The basic premise is that we need to do more to save/aid foreign refugees seeking asylum from bloodthirsty corporations/countries. I completely agree with that. This book in no way altered or added to my concern on the topic. It is obviously an illustrated plea, or an attempt to educate, but I found it so melodramatic, it made a mockery of something I already believe srongly about.
In addition to stretching my credulity about a topic that is supposed to be based on fact, the book strained my patience. I am normally an avaricious reader, but I found this book a struggle to get through. Once Little Bee's and Sarah's history was clear, and once it was obvious where the rest of the book was headed, all that was left was to read page after page of Sarah agonizing over her life decisions while her lover stands by as the Voice of Reason (which also happens to be the Voice of Insensivity and Selfishness).
Adding to this was the character of Charlie, with his ridculously cute grammatical errors, so oozing with adorable precociousness I'm surprised he is never described as "tow-headed" or "apple-cheeked." Charlie's mother allows him to wear a Batman costume non-stop for the space of two seasons, even to his father's funeral, although she never thinks to break to him the news that his dad has passed. It seems as if she WANTS Charlie to grow up with serious emotional problems. She certainly doesn't seem to mind putting him in an occasional life-threatening situation.
I just found it labored and patronizing. Little Bee's story is brutal and important, and yet it is filled with eye-rolling cutesiness and an unnecessary amount of predictable padding. Too sweet for this reader. Next time, less honey.