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Little Bee

Average Rating 3.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

59 out of 62 people found this review helpful.

This is an eye-opening and devastating book!

Little Bee by Chris Cleave is the story of what happens when the lives of Sarah, a British magazine editor and Little Bee, a Nigerian teenager collide. The resulting conflict is spectacular and stunning. This is an eye-opening , devastating book told from the perspectiv...
Little Bee by Chris Cleave is the story of what happens when the lives of Sarah, a British magazine editor and Little Bee, a Nigerian teenager collide. The resulting conflict is spectacular and stunning. This is an eye-opening , devastating book told from the perspectives of these two very different women, neither of whom can turn a blind eye to the tragedies taking place around them.

This was a hard book for me to read. The jacket blurb in no way prepares you for what is coming and the story, though it leaves you with some hope, is ultimately very sad. However, this is a book that you need to read, if only to be more aware of what is happening in other parts of the world and how little we are doing to stop these tragedies. Maybe this book will persuade more people to follow Sarah's example and refuse to turn a blind eye.

posted by Frisbeesage on February 18, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

17 out of 27 people found this review helpful.

Ehhh

After reading the back cover and the first chapter I was hooked. But in the long run the story didn't really develop itself... I was just learning about the characters when the book ended... not my favorite but its a good first 3 chapters

posted by Sweetsaki on June 6, 2010

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  • Posted July 29, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    more than a little depressing

    I've recently read T.C. Boyle's Tortilla Curtain, which dealt with the heartbreaking, backbreaking lives of illegal immigrants in the U.S. The tension and turmoil leap off the page in that book, but I found Little Bee a disappointment. Yes, the true grit of the novel unfolds little by little, but the plot failed to engage me for some reason. The accolades on the back indicate that it's supposed to be witty, but I missed the wit somehow and found it to be one of the most depressing books ever. Sixteen-year-old Little Bee, along with several other women, is released without immigration papers from a detention center in London. She is a refugee from Nigeria, where all of her family members were murdered for the oil deposits in their village. She makes her way to the home of Andrew O'Rourke and his wife Sarah, whom she met on a beach in Nigeria. (The beach encounter is the crux of the story and not fully revealed until at least midway through the book.) She appears at Sarah's door on the day of Andrew's funeral, after he has committed suicide, ostensibly from anguish after Little Bee phoned that she was on her way to his house. What bothered me here were how many asinine decisions the characters made, which had extremely tragic consequences. Why would Sarah's married lover, Laurence, show up on her doorstep the day of Sarah's husband's funeral? Why would she let him stay? Why would he ask Little Bee, who is in danger of being deported, to make the call to the police when Sarah's son Charlie goes missing? (OK, maybe he had an ulterior motive here.) Why would you allow your 4-year-old to wear a Batman outfit 24/7 for months, complete with full face mask, until you finally had to buy a second costume so that the other could be laundered? This is all head-scratchingly absurd. I will say this for Charlie in the Batman outfit. There's obviously a metaphor woven throughout the story about his being a superhero, but it didn't occur to me until the end that it also hides the (white) color of his skin.

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2012

    Okay

    For a child of a younger age it is not approved. It is okay for adults to read but not in the eyes of younger children. There was a lot of detail but sadly not in the right area of thought.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 14, 2011

    Pro Open Border Polemic

    I found the British female protagonist to be a very unsympathetic character and some of the situations (in particular the confrontation on the beach in Nigeria which is the set up piece) are just too much of a stretch of reality. In the end, once again, a white person will take up the pen to bring justice to a black person--an amalgam of the white man's burden and the pen is mightier than the sword (with a smidge of a preternaturally wise teen ager--Diablo Cody in Africa.) The issue of illegal immigration is too complex to consign to this type of cute story--even in fiction.

    That said, the book is well written. I wish Mr. Cleve had undertaken an examination of the issue with a more open mind.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 10, 2009

    Doesn't live up to the hype ...

    I agree with some of the other reviewers that this book was very cleverly marketed, however, the plot was not well developed and I found it unconvincing. Chris Cleave's writing style is very good as were his characters and his use of the different dialects, but it just misses!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2014

    I bought this book because honestly, I'm a sucker for "#1 N

    I bought this book because honestly, I'm a sucker for "#1 NY TIMES BESTSELLER" on the cover. Also, because after reading the front and back it didn't seem like a happy book. That was good because it was not necessarily a happy book. All in all, the book was not awful by any means. Some chapters were captivating, and emotions were easy to relate to, but not the majority of them. Chris Cleave did a good job with describing every scene, however, I though some descriptions were just  over kill. I also kept imagining Little Bee as a 50 year old woman by the things she said. I don't think a sixteen year old girl would say and do some of the things she did, refugee or not. I don't regret reading this book at all, I learned information about Nigeria and refugee detaining centers that I didn't know. 

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  • Posted June 2, 2013

    I really liked it, the relationship between the characters, the

    I really liked it, the relationship between the characters, the way the story unveils, definitely worth reading, after I finished this I started looking for other books from this author but was disappointed, nothing hooked me like this one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2013

    Little Bee was an incredible story about finding a home and peop

    Little Bee was an incredible story about finding a home and people who really would do anything for your well being. This beautiful piece of writing took place in several different places but the two main places were Kingston-Upon-Thames in Europe, and a small beach in Nigeria.

    This poor young Nigerian girl only the age of sixteen was forced from her peaceful village, sent on the run only traveling with her beloved sister from Nkiruka. They were being chased by the men that disrupted her peaceful village just for oil. Little did Little Bee know that just under her own house was a river of oil just waiting to mined. But as the two girls travel through the story they got separated. Nkiruka soon saw how easily they could be traced. Nkiruka found her sister and she knew they were in deep trouble so they took off to the beach where they met up with Andrew and Sarah O’Rourke (two journalists from Kingston-Upon-Thames). They were accompanied by a soldier that knew there was danger just around the corner.

    The girls begged and begged just for some sign of compassion in the couple. The soldier didn’t like this so he kept moving the couple closer telling them that they are in extreme danger. He herded them towards the hotel until…

    This heart pounding novel is for an older more mature audience. This book will leave the reader staying up till two in the morning on the edge of their seat wanting to keep reading. My opinion on this book is that it was written in a very mature and calm way. Sure there was some excitement but most of the time there was just horror. This book uses a lot of pathos for the main character Little Bee. The reader feels the pain that she feels. The reader feel very devastated for Little Bee because you want to help her and you feel her strength as she is challenged with so much pain. The reader experience how she raises up against the struggle. This book will move you in a way that will surprise the reader. A way that you can relate too and can reflect upon.

    You can tell the hardships all the refuges had to go through just to get a chance to make it to the United Kingdom. The reason I chose this quote was to show what their side of the story the way that isn’t always pretty but the truth. “All the girls’ stories started with the-men-came-and-they. And all of the stories finish with, and-then-they-put-me-in-here. (438)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2013

    Some good writing; some of it (in my opinion) a bit agrandizing

    Some good writing; some of it (in my opinion) a bit agrandizing on the part of the author.  With tighter editing, I would give this book a much higher rating.  Parts are exceptional.

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  • Posted July 28, 2012

    It was informational, but the author should have developed the c

    It was informational, but the author should have developed the characters a little more.

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  • Posted July 13, 2012

    Good but Lacking

    If I could I would give this novel a 3 and a half but I was re ally excpecting a "special" and "magical" story and this was not exactly it. The novel started out ok but after Little Bee left the barn it started to get messy and and slightly over the top with what happened on the beach and the suicide and all that ensued. I was not hooked as I thought I would be and I was not fond of Sarah and Lawrence together because on a certain level they defied the purpose of this book which was to show the goodness within people. Sarah was suppose to be the protagonist that had a good heart but the affair was constantly contradicting that.It was not until the end that the book finally picked up and evoked a great deal of emotion. Although I didnt think the book was too great Chris Cleave is an amazing writer and I was facisnated by his writing style and how he interwove certian themes and metaphors through the characters which ultimatley connected all of them.

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  • Posted May 24, 2012

    Fascinating and wonderful characters!

    Cleave's way of telling the story of Sarah, Little Bee, and their lives before and after they converged, captivated me. As another reviewer (Frisbeesage) said, the promotional blurb "in no way prepares you for what is coming in the story." Thus, the story compels you to keep reading, keep reading, keep reading, and when it's done, you keep hoping and wanting to read the rest of it. Or is it ever done? Is there a "rest of it" that we could bear to read? We can never know. I loved the fact that this story not only thoroughly engaged me, but I also became more aware of the crisis and crackdown in Nigeria due to -- guess what -- human kind's need (and capitalism's desire) to reap the natural resources from the land. The African continent has been pillaged by everyone on the face of the earth, it seems. Sarah and Little Bee's story is the result of this aspect of human nature. The engaging quality of the characterization of Sarah and Little Bee and of those who love them is the result of Chris Cleave's tremendous skill with words and his in depth understanding of the nature of these two women -- and of those who love them!

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  • Posted January 5, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Recommended

    recomended

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2012

    little bee

    The first half of this book is thought provoking and little bee is charming and insightful. However something happens when cleave decides to add a bit of cunning to bee at a kitchen table and from that point on his writting falls flat. Begining is briliant, ending is as if someone else wrote it. Did editors ask him to wrap it up as contemporary readers wont buy long books these days or did cleave change his own opinion on poor little bee. Either way cleave has done an injustice to his character and himself.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2011

    Fairly disappointing

    Long on hype, short on substance. Didn't get much out of reading it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2011

    Depressing

    I'm okay with darker themes, but I didn't feel like I really got anything from this book other than just a glimpse at some very sad lives.

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  • Posted December 5, 2011

    Great book worth reading!

    When I first opened the book Little Bee I wasn't positive if it was for me. After reading the summary on the back of the book to finishing the book and rereading the summary I agree with what was quoted," The magic is in how the story unfolds." I personally feel that Little Bee was an eye opening book with an outstanding storyline. I will admit Little Bee is a hard book to understand or get into because it is told from two different characters perspectives. This book was a great experience, it's a possibility that it may change your outlook on certain life lessons. I enjoyed reading Little Bee and I would recomend it to anyone.
    The story begins with a sixteen year old Nigerian girl who has been held in a detention center in London since she was fourteen. I know what your thinking what is a Nigerian girl doing in a London detention center, well that comes later in the story. Little Bee the sixteen year old girl has spent her time in the detention center dressing herself down in hawiian shirts, baggy pants, and big boots but under those boots is red painted toenails it was the only thing that reminds Little Bee of who she really is. The day comes Little Bee and three other girls are released Little Bee sets of on her adventure to find Andrew whom she has his drivers licence from a past experience. Only to find when she arrives Andrew has died and his wife Sarah and son Batman also known as Charlie are on their way to Andrews funeral. The story starts there. Sarah didn't expect this suprise but knows she can't turn Little Bee out onto the streets. These two girls have an emotional past history because Sarah saved Little Bee's life. After a few days of Little Bee staying with Sarah the girls are ready to talk about what happened the day on the beach when Sarah and her husband are on their trip to Nigeria. People in the story are against Sarah helping Little Bee but she knows what is right because Little Bee has no family. The characters in the story grow strong bonds and everything works out for both Little Bee and Sarah. I don't want to tell you everything at the end of the book and spoil it so it is a book you must read for yourself trust me you will enjoy it. Trisha.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2011

    Not as good as I thought it would be

    There was a lot of hype around this book and even the story itself seemed to be building to something great. But in the end I was left wishing there had been more.

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  • Posted September 16, 2011

    Well written

    Although the other did an excellent job writing this book, it was a very depressing book.

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  • Posted September 11, 2011

    It was ok.

    It took me a while to actually get into it. Good story, but it kind of dragged.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2011

    An Okay Read

    This book caught my eye by reading the back cover. Chris Cleave explained he would not give you a synopsis of the book, rather you had to read it to find out its "magic." It was an okay book to me. I was confused at some parts and the characters were not well explained. The chapters were "jumpy" with time frame. All in all, if there was an overview of the book on the back cover, I would have not chosen to read this book.

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