Title: Little Bee
Author: Chris Cleave
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (February 16, 2010)
Rating: 5 out of 5
Summary from Amazon
All you should know going in to Little Bee is that what happens on the beach is brutal, and that it braids the fates of a 16-year-old Nigerian orphan (who calls herself Little Bee) and a well-off British couple--journalists trying to repair their strained marriage with a free holiday--who should have stayed behind their resort's walls.
Cleave's book had me at "hello." His first line, "Most days I wish I was a British pound coin instead of an African girl," is an apt introduction to Little Bee, a 16-year-old Nigerian refugee in England. Her voice is the voice of a survivor. The memories she holds inside are both horrifying and character- building. This book has already been highly lauded by the press, but how will it play out for my audience? This book is graphic for the young reader, but eye-opening for the mature readers. This is for the student who is passionate about human rights, who is loath to hurt another human being, or who has horrors they too are holding. Although this book is sometimes too painful to bear, you will keep reading because Little Bee and Sarah also carry hope on their weighed down shoulders. There is humanity still, even if we feel we are in our darkest moments. This is for the people who seem to have no voice. Mr. Cleave gives them a voice, and we in turn need to learn from this that we all must speak up for those that cannot speak up for themselves.
I am very impressed with Mr. Cleave's grasp of these two female voices, both Little Bee and Sarah. The men in the story are confusing to me, but I really gravitate to these two strong females. Like every good book, though, we are haunted by the characters in our waking hours and we want more, so there is a very substantial website that like "reading ladders" will entice you to read more of his work. I am including a short video of Mr. Cleave talking about Little Bee.