Tag: reading

The Secret Life of Bees: Motherhood and Coming of Age Without It

Grief. Hope. Life. Renewal. There isn’t a single word that can capture what Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees is about. The Secret Life of Bees revolves around teenager Lily Owens, and the void left by her mother’s death as well as her guilt for causing it. It’s already intriguing enough on its own but when you add in the fact that this takes place in the 1960s and involves Lily traveling with her mammy “stand-in-mother”, Rosaleen, I’m a little less intrigued.

As previously mentioned, Lily Owens and Rosaleen Daise are on the run after a confrontation with a trio of racists. After breaking Rosaleen out of a brief stint in jail, they find themselves at The Black Madonna Honey farm where they are given work and refuge by the August Boatwright, the beekeeper. While there, Lily grows closer August, her sisters May, and June while coming closer to finding out more about her mother.

Although the first few chapters were full of tension it was still a little rough to get through. It wasn’t until chapter four where we met the first of the Boatwright sisters did things actually get interesting for me. That’s not to say that important things weren’t happening in the previous chapters. In fact, the inciting incident and much of the backstory occurs within the first four chapters but it’s only after meeting the Boatwright sisters does the story become more lively. Which is what I believe Kidd was trying to accomplish. After all, Lily’s life changes completely after meeting August and her sisters so the writing and feel of the story should change as well.

As for the diversity within this book, yes there are a ton of black people, even more black people than white people. They’re certainly well developed, have their own hopes and storylines but this story isn’t about them. Yes, their struggles are included but they’re all are secondary to Lily. The trauma that April and May felt? Well, that sure is sad but Lily needs to find out about her mother? Old men harassing her Black love interest and his friends who are teenagers? Why doesn’t he just sell his friends out for his own safety?

I think that while this book is an important read for an insight into white privilege. Yes, Lily is a poor white woman who had to deal with an abusive and distant father for most of her life but she still has privilege. While she does use her privilege to get Rosaleen out of jail, she constantly thinks herself as better than, smarter than and more well-mannered than Rosaleen, a woman who may be 30 to 40 years older than her or any of the Boatwright sisters. On more than one occasion, Lily takes it upon herself to think and speak for Rosaleen, continuing to do so even after apologizing to Rosaleen about it.

Reading further I realize that much of the setting and inspiration stems from Sue Monk Kidd and her experiences growing up in the South as the Civil Rights Act was being passed, and as the old adage goes, writers write what they know. Fine, sure. However, I can only hope that non-Black writers, now understand what’s wrong with using segregation, specifically anti-black racism, as a backdrop for a coming-of-age story for a white girl.

As for the rating I give this book, part of me wants to wait until the end of the summer reading series to reveal where it ranks amongst the other books but I know that would be a little unfair. It really is a well-written book with wonderful imagery so for now, I’m going to give this book a 5 out of 10 stars. If you want to check to see if I’ve changed the rating be sure to check back at my new Ratings Master Post Page!

I really want to thank you all for reading and I look forward to seeing what everyone thinks/ thought about The Secret Life of Bees! Be sure to let me know in the comments below!

Until next time everyone,

Happy Summer Reading!

-Jq ♥

The Selection: Lights, Camera, Romance

I first read Kiera Cass’ The Selection when I was in high school. The cover was gorgeous and the reviews mentioned that it was a cross between The Bachelor and The Hunger Games. Me, a fan of at least one of those things at the time, decided to give it a chance and found it enjoyable.

Years later, I read it again and while it was still interesting I do have a few issues. Long story short, this story is a love roller coaster; not because it had it’s ups and downs but because it’s impossible to describe what sort of love shape* is taking place here.

Let’s just get into it. Whenever the kingdom of Illea (America after two more world wars…jeez ) has a prince who is of marrying age, a Selection, or a televised competition in which 35 women “fight” for his hand, takes place. America Singer (the main character, not the country) enters and as the title and cover suggest, she becomes part of The Selection. Now America has to survive rebel attacks, princess lessons, the other girls, and heartbreak.

An interesting read, yes, but not interesting enough to make me rush to get the second book.

There was a lot going on, which I believe weakened the plot. Here we have this world, our world, however many years in the future, where people are arbitrarily placed into different castes. People are going hungry but everyone is just fine with the Monarchs of a country spending money to house young women for an indefinite amount of time just so the Prince can find a wife. Not to mention the frequent rebel attacks, complete lack of recorded history and the fact that soldiers are given body-altering drugs.

I get that this book is vaguely dystopian but all of these issues were raised and never went anywhere. Yes, the hunger issue was addressed but we, as readers, have yet to see its effect.

I do wonder how it would have changed the book if one of the subplots was removed in exchange for more characterization of some of the selected girls. The one selected girl America became friends with had some decent characterization but other than that it was disappointing to be fed the same beautiful but mean Queen B character.

Also the complete lack of racial diversity was glaringly obvious as the author tried to describe at least fifteen different girls. Aside from America the girls were either blonde or brunette. I do have my fingers crossed that one girl isn’t straight but we’ll have to see. Another young woman canonically has PTSD**. Other than that the characters were all coded as white, straight, neurotypical and able-bodied.

For the sake of completion, I’m probably going to read a few of the other books in this series but there’s nothing in this book that grabbed my attention. Hopefully, the next installments in this series will be more satisfying than this one.

Rating: 5 stars out of 10
Note: I was very tempted to give this book a 4 because of the names but I’m trying to be fair.
*Surprise! It’s a love triangle but for the sake of suspense we’ll just say that it can go any which way.
**It wasn’t explicitly stated in text but she did display a couple of the symptoms

Hey, Hi, Hello all!

And welcome to The Little Black Book Worm. My name is Jq and I am both an avid reader and writer. Like most writers, I spend a lot of my time not writing and feeling guilty about it. That said, this blog is either an attempt to alleviate that guilt, just another way for me to distract myself or a strange mix of both. In any case, I’m sure it’ll be fun.

Why?

Well one of my favorite things to do is read and write young adult literature and this blog is going to help with both. I plan to read, review and analyze any YA novel I can get my hands on. I’ll be taking a close at things like setting, plot, character development and everything else that . I’ll also be reading these books through a feminist lens just to add some more fun to the mix.

So sit back, brew and or pour your drink of choice and let’s get reading shall we?