Little Bee

littlebeeThere was a lot of buzzzz surrounding July's book club pick - Little Bee by Chris Cleave - and the book did not disappoint.  I know several HCG readers are currently reading or intend to read Little Bee, so I'll be sure not to provide any SPOILERS.  A quick synopsis of the book 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. The tide of that event carries Little Bee back to their world, which she claims she couldn't explain to the girls from her village because they'd have no context for its abundance and calm. But she shows us the infinite rifts in a globalized world, where any distance can be crossed in a day--with the right papers.

Be forewarned: There are horrific moments in Little Bee that you won't easily forget, but there are deeply moving scenes as well.  On a more superficial level, we learned (1) to avoid vacationing in Nigeria and (2) if you do vacation in Nigeria, to never leave your resort (even if you think no one will mess with you because you're American/British.  They will.  And you'll be sorry).

Little Bee is a great book, and it ranks high among some of the best books our book club has read to date.  Chris Cleave's ability to transport the reader to a Nigerian beach, a British immigration detention center or a cozy suburban home in Kingston-upon-Thames is deserving of praise.  The book is written through the alternating perspectives of Little Bee, a 16-year-old Nigerian girl, and Sarah O'Rourke, a 30-something British woman, and the author's change in tone and language from each chapter is convincing and impressive.  Sarah O'Rourke wasn't the most appealing character (we all agreed that she was unlikeable, selfish and somewhat naive but relatable given her circumstances), and Bee is clearly the heart of the story.  In sum, Little Bee is an emotionally charged novel fraught with personal battles and ethical dilemmas, and you won't regret reading it.

JTS hosted our July gathering and we soaked in the view from her incredible terrace, devoured Joe's guacamole and welcomed back HAF after her baby.  All in all, it was a delightful summer evening.  Karen (a.k.a. KAP) is hosting our August meeting and is contemplating a radical change to the book club dynamic: a themed meeting.  O.M.G.