If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I love to read. Like obsessively! I get through maybe 2-3 books a week and have waaaaayyyy too many books for my small space (I’ve had to get shelves put in my closet for extra storage!). Since, I read so many books, I thought it would be appropriate to do a book post here on the blog.
So I thought long and hard about what I wanted to my first book post to be, and seeing as 2017 has ended and officially been replaced by 2018, I wanted to do a post on my favourite book I’ve read this year. I honestly thought it would be really hard for me to pick a book out of the hundreds I’ve read this year, but it really wasn’t.
The Secret Life of Bees, is an old book, but definitely a classic. That’s probably why I’m surprised it took me long to get around to reading this. As an obsessive reader, I can’t believe I didn’t know this book existed until recently. I picked this up at a thrift shop back in October and man has it changed my life.
It’s set in South Carolina in 1964, during a time when the segregation between black and white people was a prominent issue. Lily lives alone with her abusive father, T-Ray and has a black caregiver, Rosaleen. After Rosaleen gets into an argument with a couple of racists in town, she’s arrested. During this time, Lily’s father tells her some disturbing information about the way her mother died and tells her that she had a part in her death.
Lily fears for Rosaleen’s safety, so she helps her escape the prison and together they venture out to Tiburon, South Carolina in search for someone (or something) related to her mother. This is where she finds herself in the company of three sisters: August, May and June Boatwright. Rosaleen and Lily start living with these women and we see them slowly become a part of completely different world, especially for Lily, who is the only white girl amongst a community of African- Americans.
I personally loved the family dynamic between the sisters (probably because it reminded me of my own sisters) and how Rosaleen and Lily quickly find themselves as a part of the family. I also loved how the perspective changes through the book and Lily goes from living in a community of people that look similar to her, but feel distant, to an African-American community that she should feel out of place in, but connects to so much better.
This is definitely a coming-of-age novel and it’s interesting to see how Lily begins to understand racism and how there communities so unlike her own. Her experiences mature her, and transform her from a child with a naïve sense of the world to an adult with an understanding that everything isn’t always black or white. She develops an adult-like nature and a lot of it has to do with the women that she surrounded by and the things she learns from them.
This is a book full of feminist power and a message that will really stick with you even after you’ve finished reading it. The characters are complex and poignant, yet at the same time simple and easy to relate to. I can be pretty critical when it comes to books, but I honestly had few faults to find with this one (which is extremely surprising). It’s a straightforward novel that’s hard to put down once you start reading it.