Thursday, July 21, 2011

Book Review: Little Bee by Chris Cleave

Isn't the cover of this book amazing?  It's one of my favorites - and one of the few books I've chosen based on the cover alone.  I've actually owned it for a while, but didn't get around to "reading" it until it was available on audio from the library.  It's too bad I waited so long, because I LOVED it.  I don't usually just copy and past the publisher's summary, but I'm going to do so here because the publisher asks that we don't spoil anything for future readers:

We don't want to tell you what happens in this book.
It is a truly special story and we don't want to spoil it.
nevertheless, you need to know enough to buy it, so we will just say this:
           This is the story of two women. Their lives collide one fateful day, and one of them has to make a terrible choice, the kind of choice we hope you never have to face. Two years later, they meet again - the story starts there ...
           Once you have read it, you'll want to tell your friends about it. When you do, please don't tell them what happens. The magic is in how the story unfolds.

It's much harder for me to evaluate the actual writing in an audiobook than it is when I'm reading it - I'm a very visual person and I don't catch things on audio that would bother me to see.  That said, I had no issues with the writing.  The one complaint I've seen in other reviews is that the characters aren't always likable - but to me that just makes the story more real.  No one is likable all the time.  I think the author did a great job of capturing the voice of two women from very different backgrounds. 

Entertainment Value:
I was intrigued from the beginning.  A few moments became slow, but were necessary for character development.  It was interesting because the one part that I think of as being slow was a part Luke also happened to listen to.  When he pointed out that it seemed dull and pointless, I was able to tell him how it gave us more insight into the characters as a whole, which also reminded me how the "slow" parts can be most important in developing character.

This wasn't my favorite to listen to.  It's not that the reader did a poor job, it's just that I didn't think it was exceptional either.  The narrator used an accent for Little Bee's voice that didn't really ring true for me.  I'd rather a reader not use an accent at all than use a fakey sounding accent.  But, also, I have never met anyone in real life from Nigeria, so who knows?  Maybe it was very realistic and I'm wrong.  I just didn't love it.

I read several reviews that talked about the violence in this book and also stated that the book was depressing or grim.  I have to mention those because I so strongly disagree.  There is a scene of shocking violence in the book.  That being said, I didn't find it to be in any way graphic or sensational.  It was real.  This is how wars are being fought and the author leaves out a good deal of description that I think could have swayed the scene towards sensationalism.  As far as the book being depressing, I have no idea how you could read the entire thing and come away with that.  It doesn't end with everyone falling in love and getting married under rainbows, and it's not neatly wrapped up and presented in pretty paper with a bow, but how it can be anything other than hopeful I don't know.  We see true change happen in both women's lives and the prospect of a better future, even if that future isn't happening immediately. 

All of that to say, I highly recommend it.  It deals with a lot of timely issues in a non-partisan way and brings to light the disparity between life in the Western world and life in third world countries that are not so very far away.


  1. This is on my TBR solely for the cover design! Glad you liked it :)

  2. I really want to read this one after a few reviews I read - plus the color!

  3. I have had this one for awhile now but haven't gotten to it yet. I agree, the cover is beautiful!