Little Bee

Our problem is that you only have your own story. One story makes you weak. But as soon as we have one hundred stories, you will be strong. If we can show that what happened to your village happened to a hundred villages, then the power is on our side. We need to collect the stories of people who’ve been through the same things as you. We need to make it undeniable. Then we can send the stories to a lawyer and we’ll let the authorities know, if anything happens to you, those stories will go straight to the media. Do you see? I think that was what Andrew hoped to do with his book. It was his way of saving girls like you.” (p. 253)

There is nothing like a book such as this to point out to me my incredible naivety. To make me feel in profound discomfort that I am a white girl in a privileged country who knows nothing of rape and torture and fear like Little Bee did in Nigeria. I’m so comfortable in my ignorance, in fact, that I would never even choose Nigeria as a vacation destination, like Sarah did when the free tickets fell into her lap.

She takes her husband there, on a trip meant to restore their marriage, and during the course of their vacation their lives are irrevocably changed. Missing is Sarah’s middle finger, missing is any freedom from guilt; so incredibly changed is Andrew that he cannot cope with the events they experienced on the beach even when he returns to his home in London.

This is a story of courage and strength, of worlds colliding when two women decide that they will help each other learn to survive, learn to live, no matter what the cost. Which is greater than I could ever imagine.

22 thoughts on “Little Bee”

  1. How could you torture me Bellezza? Reviewing this books makes me curious and fidgety of the fact the I just went to the bookstore and I saw none of this books in the shelves. Worse, I fear I will neither be able to read it, nor buy it.


  2. Loved this. Doesn't Chris Cleave write beautifully? The first half was my favourite, most especially the beginning, with Little Bee. So funny and heart-tugging at the same time.


  3. Like you, I'm privileged and very sheltered, which is why I'm so thankful for books like this, that jolt me out of my comfort. It sounds like an incredibly powerful read.


  4. I really enjoyed this book but I didn't love it – I hated the jacket summary (well at least in the British version 'The Other Hand' as I thought it was misleading, and I wasn't sure of the authentic-ness of Little Bee's voice but it was a really good and original read.


  5. I hated the jacket summary, too! In fact, you can't believe how tempted I was to write my post as, "They won't tell you a thing about this story, but I will: here it is" and delineate the whole thing from top to bottom. But, that's just the rebel in me, I guess, who hates to be teased in excess. As the cover was trying to do. I probably wouldn't have read this if my book club hadn't chosen it, but I am glad that I did when it's all said and done. Despite being played with by the cover. 😉


  6. I loved this book. I know lots of folks didn't love it as much as I did, but I think it's a great book group book. There's just so much to think and talk about after reading it, but to try to do so on blog post just gives away too much.I'm so glad you liked it.


  7. The lack of information about this book wasn't quite enough to pique my interest. And then I met one of the mom's of twins on my son's soccer team. She's from Nigeria. Now I'm going to have to read the book. It just seems like the appropriate push, ya know?


  8. It would be so interesting to hear her experience of living there, Kristen. I pray she was unscathed by the atrocities I read of happening in so much of Africa, let alone this book on Nigeria.


  9. I read this almost exactly a year ago. It was on my honorable mention list for 2009 with a 4.5/5 rating. I really, really enjoyed Little Bee's story and fell in love with Charlie. Marvelous book, but one I struggle with when it comes to handselling at work. The writing is top-notch, but the subject matter is a tough sell. In any event, I can't wait to see what Cleave does next!


  10. My son had a Batman stage; he even wore his suit to my grandmother's eightith birthday.This book was so sad, so tear-at-your-heart, but it was beautifully written. I probably wouldn't have picked it up without one of my book clubs choosing it because there's only so much sorrow I can stand.


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