It was on CapeWomenOnline's recommended reading list last January. My book club read it in September. I tried to take it out of the library, but it was already out with a waiting list. Finally, in December, a friend gave me her copy after she'd finished it.
What an excellent book.
It's not at all what I thought it was going to be. Chris Cleave's subtle use of language is nothing short of beautiful. The story is told from a few different and varying viewpoints, the main one being that of a Nigerian teenager, Little Bee, who is trying to escape the violence of her homeland.
We learn in the first few pages that she has taught herself "The Queen's English" while in an immigration detention center in England. Her use and understanding of English is fascinating. I love the way she speaks to the reader throughout the entire novel to explain that while we may understand what she is talking about, the people in her village back home would have no point of reference for understanding most of the things and turns of phrase that we take for granted.
The language is not the only thing of beauty in this book. The subtle twists and turns of the plot and the way Cleave chooses to slowly unfold it all for the reader by jumping back and forth through time kept me thinking about the story and wondering where it would turn next, even as I was driving to and from the various kid activities that filled my week. I found myself looking forward to waiting in the parent pickup line, just so I would have those minutes to read the next part of the story.
This is not a happy book, despite all its beauty. And despite my previous rants about needing that "happily ever after" to my reading, I would totally recommend LITTLE BEE to anyone looking for a well-written, lyrical, thought-provoking story.
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