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LIttle Bee – Chris Cleave

February 4, 2011

This is one of those books that you wander into the bookstore and pick it up, read the back cover, flip through the pages, and put back down on the shelf. At least it was for me. And, if you are like me, you do this any number of times before you make the ultimate decision to purchase the book.

 Little Bee tells the story of a 16-year old refugee who calls herself Little Bee . Little Bee has just been released from the British immigration center where she has been held in horrific conditions for two years. She had arrived at the refugee center after escaping her home in Nigeria after a brutal incident left her homeless and without her family. When she is let out of the refugee center, she calls Andrew, the one person she knows in England.  She met Andrew on the beach in Nigeria, where the brutal incident occurred that resulted in the death of her sister, and ultimately lead to her escape from Nigeria.

 I finished this book over two weeks ago and I still find myself just sitting and thinking about it, completely unsure as to how I really feel about it. I think it is one of those stories that needs to be told. It’s one of those stories that opens your eyes to the hardships that other people in this world endure. It captures the brutality that occurs on a daily basis across the world.

 My problem with the book is that I just really did not like the characters. Andrew and Sarah were very unlikable, and their four year old son, Charlie, was portrayed more as a two year old than a four year old. I hated (hated)the man Sarah was having an affair with, and then continued to see immediately after Andrew’s suicide.

 I think the book has lofty aspirations that fell a little short. I appreciate what it tried to do, which was to show the shocking brutality that occurs around the world. The book definitely succeeded in making me think about the world we live in. I made me feel extremely uncomfortable in my skin. But the book was so sad and depressing. It haunted me for days after I put it down. And the characters were so, so unlikeable. And that was the deal breaker for me. I just cannot strongly recommend a book where I so strongly disliked the characters.

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