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The Secret Life of Bees
Cover of The Secret Life of Bees
The Secret Life of Bees
Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees, a heartwarming coming of age tale set in 1960s South Carolina, a multi-million copy New York Times bestseller, now an award-winning film starring Dakota Fanning, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson and Alicia Keys
Fans of  Kathryn Stockett’s The Help and Beth Hoffman’s Saving CeeCee Honeycutt will love Sue Monk Kidd’s Southern coming of age tale. The Secret Life of Bees was a New York Times bestseller for more than 125 weeks, a Good Morning America “Read This” Book Club pick and was made into an award-winning film starring Dakota Fanning, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson and Alicia Keys. Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed.
When Lily's fierce-hearted black "stand-in mother," Rosaleen, insults three of the town's most vicious racists, Lily decides they should both escape to Tiburon, South Carolina—a town that holds the secret to her mother's past. There they are taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters who introduce Lily to a mesmerizing world of bees, honey, and the Black Madonna who presides over their household. This is a remarkable story about divine female power and the transforming power of love—a story that women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.
Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees, a heartwarming coming of age tale set in 1960s South Carolina, a multi-million copy New York Times bestseller, now an award-winning film starring Dakota Fanning, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson and Alicia Keys
Fans of  Kathryn Stockett’s The Help and Beth Hoffman’s Saving CeeCee Honeycutt will love Sue Monk Kidd’s Southern coming of age tale. The Secret Life of Bees was a New York Times bestseller for more than 125 weeks, a Good Morning America “Read This” Book Club pick and was made into an award-winning film starring Dakota Fanning, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson and Alicia Keys. Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed.
When Lily's fierce-hearted black "stand-in mother," Rosaleen, insults three of the town's most vicious racists, Lily decides they should both escape to Tiburon, South Carolina—a town that holds the secret to her mother's past. There they are taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters who introduce Lily to a mesmerizing world of bees, honey, and the Black Madonna who presides over their household. This is a remarkable story about divine female power and the transforming power of love—a story that women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.
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    840
  • Interest Level:
  • Text Difficulty:
    4 - 5


 
Awards-
Excerpts-
  • From the cover 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.

    Man and InsectsChapter One

    At night I would lie in bed and watch the show, how bees squeezed through the cracks of my bedroom wall and flew circles around the room, making that propeller sound, a high-pitched zzzzzz that hummed along my skin. I watched their wings shining like bits of chrome in the dark and felt the longing build in my chest. The way those bees flew, not even looking for a flower, just flying for the feel of the wind, split my heart down its seam.

    During the day I heard them tunneling through the walls of my bedroom, sounding like a radio tuned to static in the next room, and I imagined them in there turning the walls into honeycombs, with honey seeping out for me to taste.

    The bees came the summer of 1964, the summer I turned fourteen and my life went spinning off into a whole new orbit, and I mean whole new orbit. Looking back on it now, I want to say the bees were sent to me. I want to say they showed up like the angle Gabriel appearing to the Virgin Mary, setting events in motion I could never have guessed. I know it is presumptuous to compare my small life to hers, but I have reason to believe she wouldn't mind; I will get to that. Right now it's enough to say that despite everything that happened that summer, I remain tender toward the bees.

    *

    July 1, 1964, I lay in bed, waiting for the bees to show up, thinking of what Rosaleen had said when I told her about their nightly visitations.

    "Bees swarm before death," she'd said.

    Rosaleen had worked for us since my mother died. My daddy - who I called T. Ray because "Daddy" never fit him - had pulled her out of the peach orchard, where she'd worked as one of his pickers. She had a big round face and a body that sloped out from her neck like a pup tent, and she was so black that night seemed to seep from her skin. She lived alone in a little house tucked back in the woods, not far from us, and came every day to cook, clean, and be my stand-in mother. Rosaleen had never had a child herself, so for the last ten years I'd been her pet guinea pig.

    Bees swarm before death. She was full of crazy ideas that I ignored, but I lay there thinking about his one, wondering if the bees had come with my death in mind. Honestly, I wasn't that disturbed by the idea. Every one of those bees could have descended on me like a flock of angels and stung me till I died, and it wouldn't have been the worst thing to happen. People who think dying is the worst thing don't know a thing about life.

    My mother died when I was four years old. It was a fact of life, but if I brought it up, people would suddenly get interested in their hangnails and cuticles, or else distant places in the sky, and seem not to hear me. Once in a while, though, some caring soul would say, "Just put it out of your head, Lily. It was an accident. You didn't mean to do it."

    That night I lay in bed and thought about dying and going to be with my mother in paradise. I would meet her saying, "Mother, forgive. Please forgive," and she would kiss my skin till it grew chapped and tell me I was not to blame. She would tell me this for the first ten thousand years.

    The next ten thousand years she would fix my hair. She would brush it into such a tower of beauty, people all over heaven would drop their harps just to admire it. You can tell which girls lack mothers by the look of their hair. My hair was constantly going off in eleven wrong directions, and T. Ray,...

About the Author-
  • Sue Monk Kidd is the award-winning and bestselling author of the novels The Secret Life of Bees and The Mermaid Chair. She has also written several acclaimed memoirs, including Traveling with Pomegranates, and serves on the Writers Council for Poets & Writers, Inc. Kidd lives in Southwest Florida with her husband, Sandy, and dog, Barney. To learn more, visit suemonkkidd.com.

    Jenna Lamia has appeared on- and off-Broadway, as well as on television in Law and Order: SVUStrangers with Candy, HBO's Oz, and MTV's Awkward., of which she is also the coexecutive producer. Her film credits include The Fighter and The Call.
Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine This fascinating novel is artistically performed by Karen White, whose scratchy voice is ideal for the 14-year-old Lily Owens. Through pacing, pitch, and just the right amount of tension in her delivery, White's narration of the suspenseful and emotional path Lily undertakes in search of her mother's past is tremendously engaging. The other characters of the story, from the terrifying T. Ray to the individual Boatwright sisters, are also fully voiced by White. The lush details of the novel also make listening deeply satisfying. From the descriptions of moonlight to the sounds of a beehive, the combination of the author's prose and Karen White's voice is outstanding. R.F. (c) AudioFile 2002, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    November 12, 2001
    Honey-sweet but never cloying, this debut by nonfiction author Kidd (The Dance of the Dissident Daughter features a hive's worth of appealing female characters, an offbeat plot and a lovely style. It's 1964, the year of the Civil Rights Act, in Sylvan, S.C. Fourteen-year-old Lily is on the lam with motherly servant Rosaleen, fleeing both Lily's abusive father T. Ray and the police who battered Rosaleen for defending her new right to vote. Lily is also fleeing memories, particularly her jumbled recollection of how, as a frightened four-year-old, she accidentally shot and killed her mother during a fight with T. Ray. Among her mother's possessions, Lily finds a picture of a black Virgin Mary with "Tiburon, S.C." on the back—so, blindly, she and Rosaleen head there. It turns out that the town is headquarters of Black Madonna Honey, produced by three middle-aged black sisters, August, June and May Boatwright. The "Calendar sisters" take in the fugitives, putting Lily to work in the honey house, where for the first time in years she's happy. But August, clearly the queen bee of the Boatwrights, keeps asking Lily searching questions. Faced with so ideally maternal a figure as August, most girls would babble uncontrollably. But Lily is a budding writer, desperate to connect yet fiercely protective of her secret interior life. Kidd's success at capturing the moody adolescent girl's voice makes her ambivalence comprehensible and charming. And it's deeply satisfying when August teaches Lily to "find the mother in (herself)"—a soothing lesson that should charm female readers of all ages. (Jan. 28)Forecast:Blurbs from an impressive lineup of women writers—Anita Shreve, Susan Isaacs, Ursula Hegi—pitch this book straight at its intended readership. It's hard to say whether confusion with the similarly titled
    Bee Season will hurt or help sales, but a 10-city author tour should help distinguish Kidd. Film rights have been optioned and foreign rights sold in England and France.

  • "Sue Monk Kidd is an extraordinary storyteller. Beautifully written."—Ursula Hegi

    "A wonderful novel about mothers and daughters and the transcendent power of love."—Connie May fowler

    "With imagination as lush and... "Sue Monk Kidd is an extraordinary storyteller. Beautifully written."—Ursula Hegi

    "A wonderful novel about mothers and daughters and the transcendent power of love."—Connie May fowler

    "With imagination as lush and colorful as the American South, a clutch of deliciously eccentric characters and vivid prose, Sue Monk Kidd creates a rich, maternal haven in a harsh world." —Christina Schwarz

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