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I live on the ocean, write women's fiction, love to read so much that it's an addiction rather than a hobby (I read an average of a book a day). I live on the wet west coast so it's a good thing that I like to walk in the rain.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Friday book review - Chris Cleave's LITTLE BEE

Wow, this is so not what I expected. A friend - whose movie preferences tend to be cheerful - lent LITTLE BEE to me and so my expectations (based on the title and my friend and movies) were relatively light.

Definitely not.

It's beautifully written and the characters are great. It's the kind of book that makes the reader think and think and then think again about all the things that we take for granted. How do we deal with a crisis? And after the crisis is over, how do we deal with the aftermath? How much of what we tell people is truth and how much not? What secrets do we keep and when (and why) do we reveal them?

A young woman ends up in Britain as she runs away from her terrible life in Nigeria. When she finally leaves the detention centre, she runs to the only people she knows, a couple she met on the beach before she left Nigeria. But the plot is almost the least part of the book. The characters, the language, the settings - all are outstanding.

This book was one of those books I won't read again (and I'm the kind of reader who reads almost everything more than once) but am glad I did the first time. It made me realize how fortunate most of us are and made me realize how we unduly complicate our lives by not being honest with our friends and family and co-workers.

So it gets a recommendation from me - but it's not the kind of book you want to read if you're having a bad day.


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