Review: Little Bee by Chris Cleave

little bee.jpgThe back of the book warns not to spoil the plot of this book, but you know how I am with spoilers. Little Bee is a Nigerian refugee who finds herself in a detention facility in England. She, along with three other women, are inexplicably released and essentially thrown to the curb, left to their own devices. I thought that it would be the story of the four women; however, it just comprises the early part of the novel.

Little Bee was driven from her native country when soldiers came upon her village and killed its inhabitants. She and her sister escaped to the jungle but were eventually caught on a beach… a beach where Sarah and her husband Andrew were attempting to save their miserably failing marriage.

After Little Bee finds her way to their home, two years after the beach scene (ok, I won’t spoil this piece of the plot) she learns from Sarah that her husband Andrew has just died. Little Bee is taken into the home and immediately bonds with their son, Charlie, who has some implied psychological damage, but we’re not sure exactly what. It goes back to when Andrew was alive, however.

Sarah has been having an affair with Lawrence since before the Beach Incident, and he is still in her life at the time of Little Bee’s arrival. He distrusts the Nigerian girl. This confrontation scene between them is a little far-fetched and was the first time when I was reading the novel that I was disappointed.

I was not a fan of Lawrence’s character. He seemed extremely irrational and kind of an idiot. His status as a government employee seems to be a huge red flag, and yet this never comes into play. It’s more of an empty threat made by the author.

I also was not a fan of how the novel wrapped up. It was like a climax, and then a resolution, perhaps a happy ending and then a not-so-happy ending. Totally unrealistic and just so far off the map of reality that I just ended up feeling like, “Really?!?!?”

But … I’d still say I enjoyed the heck out of reading this book, even though there were parts that were emotionally draining. The writing as a whole was solid; it was just some of the characters’ choices that were out of the realm of possibility. I think that’s the gist without spoiling it too much, to honor the author’s wishes.

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