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Customer Review

on May 1, 2003
"The queen, for her part, is the unifying force of the community; if she is removed from the hive, the workers very quickly sense her absence. After a few hours, or even less, they show unmistakable signs of queenlessness."
The Secret Life of Bees is a wonderful story that brings hope and strength to those that are in the midst of a journey through life. The author, Sue Monk Kidd, does an excellent job of drawing the reader into the story. By the end of the novel, the reader has developed a relationship with the main character, Lily Owens, and leaves you wondering what else lies ahead in Lily�s life. The story begins during the summer of 1964 in South Carolina. We are immediately drawn into Lily�s struggle with a vague memory of the death of her mother. Her mother was shot and killed in a freak accident when she was only four years old. Throughout Lily�s journey we discover more and more about her mother and her death.
Lily�s journey begins when she goes into town with her African American housekeeper, Rosaleen. The Civil Rights Act has just been passed and Rosaleen is going into town to register to vote. On their way into town Rosaleen gets into a fight with three of the most racist men in town and ends up getting both Lily and herself thrown in jail. Lily�s abusive father, T. Ray, bails her out but on their way back they get into an argument about Lily�s mother. ��Not funny?� he yelled. �Not funny? Why, it�s the funniest goddamn thing I ever heard: you think your mother is your guardian angel.� He laughed again. �The woman could have cared less about you.�� This was absolutely devastating for Lily to hear. She knew she could not stay with T. Ray and live with his physical and emotional abuse. She also knew she needed to find the truth about what happened to her mother.
She decides to break Rosaleen out of jail and travel to Tiburon, South Carolina. It is here where she meets the calendar sisters, May, June and August. While living with them Lily becomes engulfed in a completely different lifestyle from which she came from. She becomes an incredible beekeeper and develops strong relationships with the sisters. Throughout her stay with the sisters she begins to learn more about the truth of her mother�s life and the mystery of her death.
Kidd does a remarkable job of drawing parallels between the life of bees and the life that Lily is leading. Each chapter begins with a quote about bees that directly relates to what happens to Lily in that chapter. The struggle that Lily went through when her mother was killed is like the struggle a hive goes through when they lose their queen. �A queenless colony is a pitiful and melancholy community; there may be a mournful wail or lament from within�.Without intervention, the colony will die. But introduce a new queen and the most extravagant change takes place.�
While there is no real replacement for a lost love one, Lily finds an almost motherly comfort within the calendar sisters. Their relationships grow stronger until Lily begins to feel as if she is a member of the family. �It was how Sugar-Girl said what she did, like I was truly one of them. [�] They didn�t even think of me being different.� As Lily begins to gain the trust of the sisters she tells them the entire story about her mother, and her leaving T. Ray, and discovers more about her mother than she could have ever imagined.
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