“Little Bee”: What would you do to save the life of a stranger?

“Most days I wish I was a British pound coin instead of an African girl.  Everyone would be pleased to see me coming”.  So begins the novel “Little Bee'” a dual narrative story by Chris Cleave. 

Written in 2008, this novel has two first person voices.  One voice is Little Bee, the Nigerian asylum seeker and the other is Sarah, the British magazine editor.  They meet on the beach when Sarah and her husband Andrew take a vacation to Nigeria.  Little Bee is being pursued by some bad guys and quickly Andrew and Sarah are faced with a horrible decision.

What would you be willing to do to help save the life of a stranger? 

During the sections that Little Bee narrates, she tries to make sense of the world we live in by trying to figure out how she would explain things to “the girls back home”.  Some of her musings are hysterically funny but much of it is also incredibly sad. It was explained to Little Bee that to survive in Britian she must learn to “look good or talk even better.”

Then Sarah narrates with the contemporary modern voice of a woman living in a democracy.  Sarah should “have it all” but ironically, her life is just as messed up as Little Bee’s.  She has just buried her husband and is now officially dating her lover.  Oh and her 4 year old son wears a Batman costume 24/7.   The novel paints her as the heroine because it is her quick thinking on the beach saved Little Bee’s life.

The book is a great read and will be good for book discussions.   Would you have been able to save Little Bee?  Can you see Sarah as the heroine?

While reading this novel, I did a little research on refugees or political asylum seekers.  The novel opens with Little Bee living in a detention center in England.  I learned that Britian has 11 detention centers.  The US also holds on average 31,000 people each day. 

This book is being made into a movie that Nicole Kidman is producing and starring.  Read this one quick, we all know the book is better than the movie and reading the book ahead of the movie enhances it.  It should be good.


About Anne Loughrey

I am an avid member of several book clubs and a prolific keeper of my books. I love to discuss books and hear what others think of books I have read.
This entry was posted in book clubs, chris cleave, little bee. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to “Little Bee”: What would you do to save the life of a stranger?

  1. Shelly says:

    Anne – great post – and loved LITTLE BEE too. Interesting to hear you did some research on asylums – didn’t know about the US housing 31,000. Did you hear how the refugees are treated here in the US? The treatment of those in Britain (in the book) really bothered me. Also, I like that you put a couple of “book club questions” in your post. Helpful for those of us reading your posts that are in book clubs – thanks again!

  2. Kim says:

    Little Bee was my last book club pick. I was unable to attend, so I never read it. Funny you chose this one to review. Maybe now I will buy it and read it this summer when I have all the time in the world to read!! Yeah, right.

    Keep up the great work! I can only aspire to be half the reader you are!!

  3. Deb says:

    We just read this for my book for my last book club, too. I found the character dynamics interesting, but it was a difficult book at times to read. Now, I’m off to read “Heaven is for Real” …

  4. Thanks for your comments, ladies. Shelly, I wasn’t able to learn too much about their treatment but now I am interested and will try to find out more. Kim, I know you are kind of in a book slump, I think this book could help get out out of it…it’s a page turner. Deb, I will have to check that book out!

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