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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Sunday, January 11, 2004

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. New York: Penguin, 2003, ©2002. ISBN: 0142001740 (pbk.)

This is definitely, without question, absolutely, positively one of the best books I've read in a long time. My wife and I read most of it together as our travel book. When we have any significant length of time to spend driving in the car together, during daylight hours, when she drives, I read aloud. Both of us could hardly stand it, waiting between driving trips, so finally, we each finished the book on our own.

What is it about? A journey of self-discovery set in South Carolina in 1964, the tumultuous year of the Civil Rights Act, where a teen-age girl struggles to come to terms with her past, and the present. Why did her mother leave her years before? Running away from her callous and unfeeling father, and attempting to trace the faint clues from her mother's past, she travels to a small town where she encounters a family of bee-keeping sisters, and the "Sisters of Mary," black women who provide her with a place and the freedom to explore her inner self, and grow.

It sounds so ordinary, even prosaic, but I guarantee that once you begin this book, you won't want to put it down, and you will be moved, touched, and dare I say it, blessed. This journey of love, of inner exploration, and coming of age, all in one, is so beautifully written that you can forgive and may not even notice the improbable nature of the events that begin and end the story. If you read only one book this year, you couldn't go wrong if it were this one.

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