Arts & Entertainment

“Little Bee” crafts a world of tragedy and redemption

 “Little Bee” by Chris Cleave is the story of two women whose lives intersect and are changed forever.

 Sarah, a middle aged British magazine editor, and her husband Andrew meet Little Bee, a refugee  from Nigeria while on vacation. Before the story begins a tragic event takes place on a beach in  Nigeria. The encounter results in two deaths: Bee’s sister is brutally murdered and Sarah’s husband  Andrew commits suicide after battling a deep depression.

 The story begins with Little Bee in a detention center for refugees. She is able to make her way out of  the center with the help of other young girls who find themselves in similar situations.

 Little Bee finds temporary freedom from the oppression she faced in her country, but cannot escape  the memories of her sister’s death. Her sister’s murder has caused Little Bee to distrust all of the  people that surround her.  Her distrust places a distinct fear into her. This fear causes her to be  aware of everything that is taking place around her.

After her escape, Little Bee travels to Sarah and Andrew’s home on the brink of Andrew’s suicide.

Sarah enters the story and we immediately learn that her life is far from simple. She is having an affair with a man named Lawrence while trying to raise her son, who she affectionately calls Batman. In the midst of her affair and parenthood, Sarah attempts to run a successful magazine.

After Andrew’s suicide, Little Bee shows up at Sarah’s door and the two attempt to navigate through the pain of what took place on the beach of Nigeria. Sarah, with the help of Little Bee, helps Batman understand and cope with his father’s death and discover what he is really hiding underneath his batman costume. Little Bee also helps Sarah to separate herself from Lawrence long enough to figure out what she wants from him.

This book is engaging for many different reasons. The author uses Little Bee and Sarah to narrate the story and does a wonderful job of making the distinction between the two clear. Cleave uses Little Bee’s fear to drive her part of the story. The reader can feel the fear and bitterness in the words of Little Bee. She writes as if she is prepared for death; something young girls should never experience.

Sarah’s narration is much more harsh and cynical. She seems to be aware of the way the world functions but is still hopes for change. Their distinct voices give the book a unique way of storytelling.

Chris Cleave does a great job of presenting the world in a way that illustrates brokenness, but still gives the reader glimpses of innocence. Cleave uses Batman, Sarah’s son, to bring comedic relief and connect the reader to the story. His character is written so well that it is impossible not to fall in love with him.

The relationship development is also done brilliantly. Sarah and her son, Sarah and Little Bee, Little Bee and Batman, and Lawrence and Sarah all have extremely different relationships, and the differences are articulated in a clear way. For example, Sarah’s relationship to her son is one of love and trust. Sarah and Little Bee formed a relationship centered on a tragic event, and this event is the driving force in the way they communicate. While reading the book the relationships are so real that it is easy to imagine these characters as part of your own life.

“Little Bee” is a story of hurt and redemption. The author is able to draw the reader in early on and keep interest throughout the entire book. I was always fully engaged while reading the book. Even though “Little Bee” can often be depressing, I felt as though I was able to join the character’s journey and learn as they learned.

Read it. You may be surprised to discover that your world and Little Bee’s aren’t all that different.

Danyella Tonelli Contributing Writer for The Aviso.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

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