Book Review

Sue Monk Kidd
The Secret Life of Bees
DB55533

Living on a peach farm in South Carolina with her harsh, unyielding father, Lily Owens has shaped her entire life around one devastating, blurred memory – the afternoon her mother was killed, when Lily was four. Since then, her only real companion has been the fierce-hearted, and sometimes just fierce, black woman Rosaleen, who acts as her “stand-in mother.”

When Rosaleen insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily knows it’s time to spring them both free. They take off in the only direction Lily can think of, toward a town called Tiburon, South Carolina – a name she found on the back of a picture amid the few possessions left by her mother.

There they are taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters named May, June, and August. Lily thinks of them as the calendar sisters and enters their mesmerizing secret world of bees and honey, and of the Black Madonna who presides over this household of strong, wise women. Maternal loss and betrayal, guilt and forgiveness entwine in a story that leads Lily to the single thing her heart longs for most.

I discovered that the movie was as good as the book. It was a wonderful movie that led me to read the book, and I am glad that I did both.

This book uses the motif of the bees’ lives to make parallels with Lily’s life. Once you are about three chapters in, each of the quotes at the beginning of the chapter really make you look at them in-depth and analyze how they relate to the chapter. It gave incentive to read more closely than I usually would with fiction.

I must say that I adored this book. The writing flowed with emotion and description in all the right places. It was simple enough for everyone to enjoy without being “simple” writing.

The historic elements made the story sit in time, and allowed the reader to go back in time to that era to experience how some people crossed the black/white color line while others used it as a god given right. Because it comes from the point-of-view of a young girl, the scenes are appropriate for all ages. It can be read with a sentimental heart without dropping off into a bottomless sugar pit.

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I Should Be Writing

Today’s title is both motivation and a podcast that I follow regularly. Mur Lafferty started the podcast when she was a “wanna-be fiction writer,” now she is a published author and was nominated for a Campbell Award.

Mur offers advice about the everyday life of a writer. I am inspired to continue writing when I listen to her because she shares real life struggles and you can relate to her in a down-to-earth way. Knowing that someone else struggles with the things life throws at you and still manages to write is a big confidence booster. She is my personal cheerleader when I know I should be writing but haven’t. Mur says okay, so now get back to writing.

There are plenty of blogs and podcasts out there that offer writing advice. I have listened to several and stored that information away. It resides in the back of my mind where it can either creep into the habits that I need or wait patiently for me to get to the point in my writing where it applies to me. I never take writing advice that says this is the only way to do something. I am a unique person and my writing process is what works for me, which is often NOT what most people say you should do.

I love my goal of one paragraph a day. There is no stress that I haven’t written yet because there is still plenty of time to get just one little paragraph down on paper. I hope everyone is still meeting their goals, and check out I Should Be Writing to get motivation to work through the tough times.