Little Bee by Chris Cleave is going to be one of my favorite books this year. Hands down one of the BEST books that I have read in a while.
I first noticed Little Bee when it was first released a year ago because how could I ignore a cover like that? As soon as I saw this cover, I knew I would like it. And then the buzz was really good but yet I never managed to read it right away. SHAME on me for waiting a year to read it because this was MY kind of book. I loved everything about it.
But the thing is, I really can’t tell you anything about it. Right on the back cover:
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.
I didn’t know ANYTHING about this book before opening it and I was so GLAD that I didn’t. So I’m not going to spoil it for you either.
The only thing that I will say is that the book is about war, marriage, the refugee system in Britain and the connections that are made between people. It’s a tough subject matter with truly heartbreaking scenes but interspersed with hilarious moments. I was truly caught up within a huge range of emotions from laughing out loud to gasping in horror.
(And for those of you who have read the book will understand when I say that my boys are huge into batman and literally were wearing their batman costumes around the house while I was reading this one. So it truly made for a complete immersion experience.)
I seriously just want to point you over to Rebecca’s review because she says exactly what I would want to say about the book but so much better than what I can at the moment:
Little Bee is beautiful, awful, hopeful, devastating, and utterly unforgettable. Cleave juxtaposes gorgeous, almost poetic prose with a truly horrific story that is made bearable by moments of great humor and warmth, many of which are provided by Sarah’s son Charlie, a four-year-old who is convinced he is Batman.
Read Little Bee for the language and the variety of voices that are so incredible you’ll want to wrap yourself up with them and stay for days. Read it for Cleave’s ability to tell a story that is framed by politics but that is ultimately about people. Read it because it does all the things fiction is supposed to do and then some. From the striking cover to the very last word, Little Bee is intense, satisfying, and not to be missed. This is a story you will carry with you for the rest of your reading days.
I couldn’t agree more!
Loved it, loved it, loved it. I hope you love it too. And if you don’t . . . well, maybe I’d rather not know about it.
I was fortunate to go hear Chris Cleave at The Kings English Bookshop this past month. Hands down one of the best authors I’ve heard speak. And a genuinely nice guy. And you know how some authors should never narrate or even read their own books out loud? Cleave was superb during his reading. I’ve included a lot of video for you to watch if interested. Lots of fun stuff. I had not read the book when I went and there were no spoilers. When he reads it’s only in the first chapter. His voice is a bit quiet so you’ll want to turn your volume up pretty high.
On how we used to view and treat asylum seekers:
On how Britain now treats its asylum seekers compared to decades ago:
On why he writes fiction. I loved the story of his little boy in this one:
On writing Little Bee, part 1:
On writing Little Bee, part 2:
Chris reads the first chapter of Little Bee which is told from Little Bee’s viewpoint. Loved seeing how he, as the author, envisions the book to be read. Worth watching the whole thing:
Chris reading from the second chapter of Little Bee which is told from Sara’s viewpoint:
Such a good book!!
Have you read it?
Links of interest: Chris Cleave website, more book blogger reviews.
Publisher: Simon and Schuster February 16, 2010 (originally published February 10,2009)
Paperback, 304 pages. ISBN 1416589643
Source copy: Purchased
Little Bee is available from your favorite independent bookstore, Powell’s, and Amazon.