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26 Reviews
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating, compelling....
Wow....this is a book you need to read. Yes - need.

Quoting from the flyleaf of Little Bee:

"We don't want to tell you too much about this book. It is truly special story and we don't want to spoil it. Nevertheless, you need to know something , so we will just say this: This is the story of two women. Their lives collide one fateful day, and one of...
Published on Feb. 23 2009 by Luanne Ollivier

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Didn't do much or me
I just didn't find this particularly believable. The story is quite heavy and without it being believable, it ends up being jut a downer.
Published 13 months ago by Rachel Mintz


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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating, compelling...., Feb. 23 2009
By 
Luanne Ollivier - See all my reviews
(#1 HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 10 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Little Bee (Hardcover)
Wow....this is a book you need to read. Yes - need.

Quoting from the flyleaf of Little Bee:

"We don't want to tell you too much about this book. It is truly special story and we don't want to spoil it. Nevertheless, you need to know something , so we will just say this: This is the story of two women. Their lives collide one fateful day, and one of them has to make a terrible choice. Two years later, they meet again. The story starts there. Once you have read it you'll want to tell everyone about it. When you do, please don't tell them what happens. The magic is in how it unfolds."

Okay I was sceptical when I first saw the flyleaf, but then I started to read, and I couldn't put it down. And guess what? - I 'm going to honour the request to not tell you what happens. I know - what kind of review is that? But I think this book is a journey every reader should take on their own. What I will tell you is that author Chris Cleave has created a powerful, moving, exceptional story. The idea was inspired by his childhood in West Africa and by a visit to a British immigration detention centre. The character of Little Bee and her views of the world and life are heartbreaking and compelling. Cleave has created amazing prose, such as:

"Learning the Queen's English is like scrubbing off the bright red varnish from your toenails, the morning after a dance. It takes a long time and there is always a little bit left at the end, a stain of red along the growing edges to remind you of the good time you had."

The narrative moves between Little Bee and Sarah. What is interesting are their differing views on the same events. All of the supporting characters, Sarah's husband, lover and son are all powerfully written, provoking strong reaction and emotion. There is some violence in the book, but it is integral to the story. The ending is heartbreaking, uplifting and gives hope to our future.

Strong stuff? Yes it is - but it's a book you'll be glad you read. As I work with new Canadians every day, I will be recommending this book to co workers. It forces you to see the world through a different set of eyes.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An audiobook to remember, March 25 2013
By 
G. Petec "Gia" (Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Little Bee: A Novel (Audio CD)
Little Bee is about a Nigerian refugee. There are two main characters telling her story: herself and a British woman, Sarah. Each has a chapter and the chapters intertwine sequentially.
I've seen reviews with complaints, I guess no one was actually talking about the audiobook which I found fascinating.
I was happy for the bookmark feature as this book has tremendously beautiful metaphors that I wanted to remember. It is well read and well written. It generates feelings, emotions; it makes you laugh, it makes you cry. If this is not great literature then I do not know what is.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written, July 28 2011
By 
Shelley T. Malo (Manitoba, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Little Bee (Paperback)
There are only a handful of books that I love as much as I loved Little Bee. The story is so engaging and poignant that I could not put it down, even after I was finished the book. I felt so connected to the characters that the book stayed with me long after I read it.
The way the events of the story are unveiled is as captivating as the characters, all beautifully flawed and human. Cleave's ability to write a novel with such strong female protaganists is astounding, had I not known Cleave was male I might have thought that a woman wrote this novel, and now I really want there to be an Orange Prize for male authors so Cleave can be nominated.
I am grateful to Cleave for sharing this story and look forward to reading his other work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chris Cleave's Little Bee is a MUST READ, Feb. 4 2011
By 
This review is from: Little Bee (Paperback)
Like the book jacket asks, I will not give away any part of this superbly written novel. However, I will say that this book is one of the most amazing, emotional, thought- provoking, intelligent, eloquent, honest, heart-wrenching, hopeful and essentially life changing books that I have ever read. It made me wonder what kind of a person I was, and what kind of a person would I be, faced with the same situations as these characters. I dare anyone to read this and not fall in love with Little Bee like I did.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superbly Written, April 24 2009
By 
Coach C (Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Little Bee (Hardcover)
In my opinion, this is one of the best novels I've read in the past six months. The plot itself is not what makes this such a good book, but its depth, its symbolism, its philosophical message, and a healthy dose of sarcasm and cynicism give this novel some real bite.

I will admit, the story is slightly contrived. But one must look beyond to analyze the deeper meanings of the characters and what they say. In this way, Cleave is more artist and poet than he is storyteller with his diction and heavy use of metaphors. The concepts are abstract yet delivered in an interesting manner. For example, the protagonist Little Bee, is actually more philosophical than the adult main character Sarah. Charlie's Batman facade is symbolic of the inner and outer consciousness.

Just a wonderful Commonwealth novel with a deep philosophical message. If you like novels that really challenge you to think about the deeper meanings in life, this is the book for you.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't know why it's a secret..., June 7 2010
By 
Robyn Baldwin - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Little Bee (Paperback)
The book jacket cover asks that readers not tell others about the story. I think it's a great marketing ploy as it creates curiosity in the potential reader. It worked for my book club and we picked it due to the mystery. I on the other hand would've liked to know certain facts about the story before diving in.

Yes it's about two women who's lives are connected. But I would've liked to know that the story is based in England and Nigeria as I have a fascination with locations of plots, etc.

I will honour the book jacket marketing ploy and not describe the plot or characters. I will however say that I was not wowed by the book. I appreciate it and enjoyed reading it but it was not a wow factor for me.
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5.0 out of 5 stars so so good, July 8 2009
This review is from: Little Bee: A Novel (Hardcover)
I heard about this book from Malaprop's (Bookstore in Asheville, NC.) summer flyer recommendations. AND I agree that this is the best book I have read in awhile. I had just finished and loved "Undress Me In The Temple of Heaven" and told everyone, You have to read this..and then there was "Little Bee". I just hope they don't try to make it into a movie. So deep and poetic, rough, smooth.....a long road.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Harrowing...accomplished...unforgettable., Jan. 3 2009
By 
Schmadrian - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Little Bee (Hardcover)
This novel, told from multiple points of view, sears in at least as many ways, testimony to the author's abilities.

Having lived in the UK, I found myself nodding along with some of the sections, while wincing in others. 'Little Bee' manages to inform without resorting to preaching, and even the heightened drama bits were executed so well as to retain their effectiveness.

Mr. Cleave gets the voices right, gets the characters right, and in the end, gets the story right.

While not an 'easy read', the novel is more than worth the effort required to get through the heartbreaking passages. It reminds us of circumstances most are unfamiliar with, and of our -sometimes lacking- humanity.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing book, April 14 2009
This review is from: Little Bee (Hardcover)
This is my favourite book so far this year. Chris Cleave is a stunning writer and this book took my breath away. Little Bee's voice is still with me weeks after finishing the book. I suspect she will be with me always. Mr. Cleaves other book "Incendiary" is also very good.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "A wolf must be wolf and a dog must be a dog", April 23 2009
This review is from: Little Bee: A Novel (Hardcover)
A violent confrontation between an English couple and rebel soldiers lies at the heart of this novel where the moral culpability of the main protagonist, journalist Sarah O'Rourke is bought into question. Meanwhile, the strong-willed Nigerian girl Little Bee flees from cruelty, stowing away on a "on a great steel boat" and then landing in England. Eventually placed in detention at the Essex immigration center, the only connection that she has is Sarah's husband's, Andrew's driver's license in a see through plastic bag left on the beach.

Gifted and sensitive, Little Bee is possessed of a sharp intelligence who dreams of being a British pound coin and of the life she once had with her older sister Nkiruka, The first to confess that she's only alive because she learnt the Queen's English, Little Bee's adventure truly begins as she is released into the bright days of Essex sunshine. Even as she leaves her fellow inmates, Bee is battered by shame and memory, and all through the night is it as though Nkiruka walks beside her. Even as Andrew picks up Bee`s telephone call from the center, he suddenly admits that can't face seeing her again. Five days later Andrew has killed himself by hanging. When Bee arrives on the doorstep of their house in Kingston-upon-Thames, she sees a shattered spirit for Sarah was unable to counteract her husband's long slow slide into depression. After five thousand miles and two years, Little Bee has arrived just in time for his funeral.

The intervening two years has bought on a series of worsening premonitions and indeed the only souvenir that Sarah has of their first meeting is an absence where the middle-finger of her left hand used to be. Still, Sarah's loveable son Charlie constantly filling out his batman costume, is delighted with his new playmate, luxuriating in the brand new intimacies secrets and shared experiences, with Bee's compassion offering a partial solution to the loss of his father. Even as the six suited undertakers lower Andrew's coffin with its thick green silky ropes, Charlie squirms in his mum's arms, asking the question again and again: "Mummy, where's mine daddy exactly now?"

With its developing world of inner-badness and questions of sanctuary and refuge, Little Bee is all about "the forked tongue of grief." Meanwhile, Cleave's emotional novel charts two lives falling apart: Sarah with her house, her job and the grief "all shrinking to a point behind her," along with her dissatisfaction at her affair with Lawrence. The essence of her problem is that she's wracked with guilt that she destroyed her husband and cheated on him with another man. But it is Little Bee, having lost both her parents and her sister, who has the real struggle - that of surviving and she doesn't count on the threats from Laurence to turn her in. In a final struggle, Sarah and Bee, vowing to help each other, return to Nigeria to confront both of their demons and the fear that has ruled their lives. Here a fight is waged between two realities, both a white woman and black girl back on the beach, almost like exiles from reality. As Little Bee's past comes to haunt her, her life in Nigeria, her lost sister, and her whole family once sacrificed at the alter of hard-line oil men, Cleave unfurls a haunting work of human triumph and the perils of globalization where girls like Little Bee are just silhouettes, expendable products in a world that is shifting and changing. Mike Leonard April 09.
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Little Bee
Little Bee by Chris Cleave (Paperback - May 3 2011)
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