Originally published in 2002.
The Secret Life of Bees is set in the summer of 1964. Lily Owens is a young teenager living in small town South Carolina on a peach farm. Her mother died when she was very young, her father is abusive. Her best moments at home come when she is with the housekeeper, Rosaleen.
|Sue Monk Kidd|
The story starts immediately after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Rosaleen, who is African American, decides that she is going to go into town and register to vote. Rosaleen meets some resistance, reacts and gets arrested. Then, she gets a beating and ends up hospitalized. Lily breaks her out and they flee to another small town - Tiburon.
Lily only has a few trinkets from her mother and one of them is a piece of paper with an African American Virgin Mary with Tiburon, SC written on the back. She is determined to find out more about her mother and save her stand-in mother.
When they get to Tiburon, they are directed to "the pink house" and discover a thriving honey business ran by three African American sisters. Lily and Rosalee learn about bees and family as Lily tries to figure out her mother's connection to this place...
There are obvious connections to other Southern "coming of age" stories like A Member of the Wedding or Huckleberry Finn, but this book is unique. The religious angle alone sets it apart (for both good and bad). It is certainly worth your time to read.
I rate this book 4 stars out of 4 and it can be found on Amazon.com here: The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd.