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Little Beehttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=Bibliograph07-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=1416589643&fc1=F3EDED&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=040404&f=ifr by Chris Cleave was a bestseller for a long time after its publication in 2008.  It is told in two separate voices–that of Little Bee, a Nigerian refugee who flees to Britain, and Sarah O’Rourke, the woman with whom Little Bee shared one horrific, violent moment on a beach in Nigeria.  This event ties the two women together in an unbreakable bond, and as Sarah and her husband Andrew are the only two people Little Bee knows of in England, it is them to whom she runs.

The New York Times called this book “an affecting story of human triumph,” but I have to disagree. An affecting story, yes, but I’d say of human misery, rather than triumph.  The entire novel is depressing! And the ending caught me by surprise. I thought perhaps there was time for Cleave to turn the plot around, and end it happily, but I was disappointed. I’m sorry to give it away. Maybe some people enjoy these dreary tales of war and adultery and sorrow, but I’m not one of them. Unless of course there is a moral or happy ending. I like it when good things happen to good people.  I like it when people who have struggled so hard to survive without harming others are able to find happiness and security. It may be unrealistic, or idealistic, but this is fiction we’re reading. I get enough of real life in real life!

I will say that I enjoyed the character Little Bee immensely. She is one of those characters to whom numerous bad things have happened, but she still has so much strength, courage, and love in her heart for those who are kind to her.  She and Sarah have both suffered so much, but when she finds Sarah in crisis, Little Bee is there as a help and comfort to her.  And the child in the story, Charlie, is adorable.  He added comic relief to an otherwise gloomy tale.  The characters, I feel, make up for the sorrowful plot.

If you simply have to read every bestseller there has ever been, then by all means, read this. After all, your opinion may be way different than mine.  There’s a lot of value in the book, it’s true. It brings attention to the invisible oil war happening in Nigeria.  But if you’re looking for a light fun read that’s going to make you feel warm and fuzzy inside–this is not it.

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