Posted by: istop4books | August 5, 2011

LITTLE BEE BY Chris Cleve

Little Bee



Little Bee drew me in from page one. Unlike others, I did not read the front or back covers, so I didn’t know it was supposed to “change my life” or that parts of it were “hilarious.” It was a short book that I could slip in my bag. As I had no expectations, I completed enjoyed reading this book and did so quickly. I thought it was a moving and thoughtful look into our preconceived notions of Africa, Africans, refugees, the easy life, marriage and relationships.

Told from the point of view of Little Bee, a young refugee from Nigeria, it is a compelling and heartbreaking story of many who suffer in Africa from prosecution, shrunk down to her own, personal horrific experience of having to leave Nigeria, being incarcerated (or more politically correct – detained) in a refugee center for two years outside London and a reencounter with her past.

Also told from the point of view of Sarah, a suburban, career oriented, white, well to do wife and mother who travels to Nigeria on a whim and whose life will forever be changed due to a brief encounter on the beach.

Interestingly enough, a male author captured fairly well the voices of two very distinct women, perhaps succeeding in Little Bee’s voice a bit more than Sarah’s, however these characters were relevant, he avoided clichés and provided believable thoughts, actions and dialog – with one exception: the kid. I was not a fan of little batman.

In the book Cleve deals with issues of immigration, refugee status, and the arrogance of the western world. I liked it. Would probably rate it a 4.5, but I’m feeling generous today. Cleve’s writing is poetic. The quotes above are only a sampling and each quote worthy of an essay. Little Bee’s voice, in simplistic English, perhaps more profound and certainly wiser than the college educated journalists in the book.

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