The Secret Life of Bees book. Read reviews from the world's largest community for readers. Set in South Carolina in , The Secret Life of Bees. The Secret Life of Bees is a book by author Sue Monk Kidd. Set in , it is a coming-of-age story about loss and betrayal. It received critical acclaim and was a. Book Sense Book of the Year, • Good Morning America “Read This” Book Club Pick. Set in South Carolina during , The Secret Life of Bees tells the.

Book The Secret Life Of Bees

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Editorial Reviews. Review. In Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees, Look inside this book. The Secret Life of Bees by [Kidd, Sue Monk]. Honey-sweet but never cloying, this debut by nonfiction author Kidd (The Dance of the Dissident Daughter features a hive's worth of appealing female characters . The Secret Life of Bees Book Summary Lily holds a terrible and guilty secret: She believes she shot and killed her mother, Deborah, when Lily was four.

Like the bees, she also plans to escape, leaving behind her abusive father and freeing Rosaleen. Ray leaves temporarily to work on his workers' payroll, Lily sneaks away, carrying with her a bag of things her mother, Deborah, had left earlier, including a photo of a black Mary, mother of Jesus.

Lily manages to free Rosaleen, and they hitchhike to Tilburon, South Carolina, because Deborah had written that town on the back of the picture in Lily's bag. Lily hopes it's a clue to help her find out about her mother.

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Once they reach Tilburon, Lily sees the exact same picture of Mary on honey jars at a small grocery store. After inquiring about the label, Lily finds it belongs to a local black family of sisters — called the Boatrights — who are beekeepers.

Lily and Rosaleen go to the bright pink Boatright house outside of town and are welcomed and taken in.

Lily lies about their earlier life and hopes to stay long enough to find out whether her mother was ever there. August Boatright and her sisters, May and June, have a lucrative honey business on twenty-eight acres of land. June is suspicious of and distant from Lily, and May seems slow and emotional. They also meet Neil, June's boyfriend of many years, who wants to marry June but keeps getting rejected.

The other sister, May, is oversensitive to pain, and when she gets upset she must write down the sorrowful thing on a paper and stick it in a crack at her "wailing wall," a wall of stones on the farm. This behavior seems to be connected to the suicide of June's twin sister, April, years earlier. As time passes, Lily helps August with the beekeeping, and Rosaleen keeps an eye on May in the house. Lily is given a room in the "honey house," where she can sort out her feelings. She increasingly likes August but is afraid to tell her the truth about her previous life, for fear that August will reject her.

Meanwhile, she develops a crush on Zach, a black teenage worker who helps with the bees. Lily and Rosaleen become increasingly comfortable in this amazing community of sisters.

A group of women called the Daughters of Mary also come to the house, because they all practice a form of homemade religion. It is partly Catholic, including reciting the rosary, and partly a product of slavery. The group displays a wooden ship's statue of a black Mary. The Daughters pray to her, believing she can give them power and lead them to unchain themselves from various social barriers.

Lily and Rosaleen join them, and soon Lily realizes the women do not see her as white.

The Secret Life of Bees

The society of women helps August, June, and May encourage Lily to believe in herself and feel loved. But still she cannot tell August the story of her family or earlier life. Lily becomes increasingly close to Zach and on a trip to work on the bee hives, she feels the first stirrings of sexual awakening.

They share their hopes and dreams: Lily's of wanting to become a writer and Zach's of becoming a lawyer. Sensing Lily's lack of self-confidence, Zach gives Lily a journal to record her stories. They go to town and take honey to the law office of a white lawyer who is helping Zach. While Lily is alone in the office, she impulsively calls her father, demanding to know if he even knows her favorite color.

He is angry and threatens to find and beat her. One day, Lily walks into the kitchen and sees May doing something she remembers her mother, Deborah, doing.

She confronts May and discovers she knew Lily's mother. Totally shaken, Lily doesn't know what to make of this new information. She decides to face August about it, but before she can, Zach takes her into Tilburon — which is restless because of rumors about a racial confrontation — again to download parts for his car.

The two park the truck at the same time that a group of African-American boys near the truck throw a bottle at a white man. Zach is arrested with the group, and a terrified Lily makes her way back to the Boatright house.

They don't want May to know about Zach's arrest because she is so fragile. But Zach calls the house and May answers the phone, finding out about his circumstances. Leaving the house by herself, she commits suicide by drowning in the nearby river. The next few days are taken up with a period of mourning and the funeral. Set in the fictitious town of Sylvan, South Carolina , in , The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of a year-old white girl, Lily Melissa Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed.

She lives in a house with her abusive father, whom she refers to as T. They have a no-nonsense maid, Rosaleen, who acts as a surrogate mother for Lily. The book opens with Lily's discovery of bees in her bedroom. Then, after Rosaleen is arrested for pouring her bottle of "snuff juice" on three white men, Lily breaks her out of the hospital and they decide to leave town.

They begin hitch-hiking toward Tiburon, SC, a place written on the back of an image of the Virgin Mary as a black woman, which Deborah, her mother, had owned. They spend a night in the woods with little food and little hope before reaching Tiburon.

There, they download lunch at a general store, and Lily recognizes a picture of the same " Black Mary " but on the side of a jar of honey. They receive directions to the origin of that honey, the Boatwright residence. They are introduced to the Boatwright sisters, the makers of the honey: August, May, and June, who are all black.

Lily makes up a story about being an orphan. Lily and Rosaleen are invited to stay with the sisters. They learn the ways of the Boatwrights, as well as the ways of bee keeping.

According to Rosaleen, the bees swarming in Lily's bedroom are a sign of what?

With a new home and a new family for the time being, Lily learns more about the Black Madonna honey that the sisters make. She begins working as August's bee keeping apprentice to repay her for her kindness, while Rosaleen works around the house.

Lily finds out that May had a twin sister, April, who committed suicide with their father's shotgun when they were younger. Lily and Rosaleen also get to see the sisters' form of religion.

They hold service at their house which they call "The Daughters of Mary. The slaves thought that God had answered their prayers asking for rescue, and "to send them consolation" and "to send them freedom".

Lily meets Zach, August's godson. They soon develop intimate feelings for each other. They share goals with each other while working the hives.

Both Lily and Zach find their goals nearly impossible to meet but still encourage each other to attempt them. Zach wants to be the "ass-busting lawyer", which means he would be the first black lawyer in the area. Lily attempts to tell August the truth but is interrupted by Zach, who takes her for a honey run. They stop at a store to pick up a few things.


Zach gets arrested after one of his friends, who they had met at the store, throws a coke bottle at a white man and none of them will tell who did it. Zach and his friends are arrested and put in jail.

The Boatwright house decides not to tell May in fear of an unbearable emotional episode. The secret does not stay hidden for long and May becomes catatonic with depression. A vigil is held that lasts four days.

In that time, Zach is freed from jail with no charges, and black cloth is draped over the beehives to symbolize the mourning. May's suicide letter is found and in it she says, "It's my time to die, and it's your time to live.

Don't mess it up. May is later buried. Life begins to turn back to normal after a time of grieving, bringing the Boatwright house back together. June, after several rejections, agrees to give her hand in marriage to Neil.

Zach vows to Lily that they will be together someday and that they will both achieve their goals. Lily finally finds out the truth about her mother.

August was her mother's nanny, and helped raise her. After her marriage to T.After a brief struggle, the gun fell to the floor, which Lily picked up and the gun accidentally discharged, killing Deborah.

Show other formats. Feb 18, Stephanie Nicholas rated it it was amazing. Nottage, a nicely unsentimental writer, maneuvers the musical away from some cliches, neatly altering a couple of plot points, but stumbles on others.

Lily refuses, and T. Books of the Week. When T. To me, the difference between is a good book and a great book is whether you have to suspend disbelief or whether you just believe. I enjoyed the beautiful descriptive and sometimes humorous writing about fourteen-year-old Lily Melissa Owens and Rosaleen, her fierce-hearted, black "stand-in mother".

Thank you minority culture!