Little Bee by Chris Cleave took me forever to read simply because life got in the way. I had to start it over three times; with the third time being the final charm (pun intended).
Little Bee was about a young Nigerian refugee woman (Little Bee) who was released from her detention center and travels miles away to the only people she knows; the O’Rourke family who saved her life but also tried their hardest to forget the tragic incident of how they met. So I don’t spoil too much, this book I would say has a theme of ‘wanting to be free.’ Every character, small or large is suffering, or going through some type of journey that they only hope keeps them safe and sound on the other side. This book is about second chances. This book is about starting over the best way you know how but being scared (you know what-less) because you don’t know what the outcome will turn out to be.
What I loved about this book was each chapter alternated between Little Bee and Sarah’s (the wife in the story) perspective. Little Bee’s perspective was about survival, never forgetting where she came from, and trying her hardest to re-create herself in a world she really had no business being part of. Little Bee studied how people in England carried themselves because she thought that would be the key to saving her life. She felt like changing her vernacular and knowing facts about a world she would’ve never been placed in if it wasn’t that day on the beach with Sarah was her out. Her way of being free and starting over.
For Sarah, she too was about surviving but in the sense of, she had to focus on the present and not go back to who she was. A woman who was lost and just seemed to go through the motions. Essentially, she was changing for the better but still held on to who she used to be. Sarah was a people pleaser, but failed to focus on how to properly love, balance, and care for her family. It was like she was in denial about things and she knew it but she didn’t take the steps to figure out how to get out of those moments. So she went about her daily routine, struggling because she never spoke up until it was too late; but redeeming herself when Little Bee came back into her life was her way of being free. Helping someone else was they key for her life to be better.
Little Bee and Sarah are one in the same, and it’s crazy because their lives were totally different prior to when they were put together and it changed everything. Their willingness to help one another in a time of turmoil, both physically, and globally shaped who they became as women. They depended on each other and I think subconsciously knew that with all the secrets they kept they needed each other because one couldn’t survive without the other.
Chris Cleave also has another book, entitled Incendiary. I enjoyed his style of writing in Little Bee and hopefully you will too. Although it was a slow read in the beginning the relationships the characters developed with each other continuously peaked my interest. Each chapter there was something I wasn’t expecting. A story of two women trying to survive in a world they felt like they didn’t belong too.