Book Six: The Secret Life of Bees

The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd

I'm going to say right off the bat that my least favorite movie of all time is Forrest Gump. I hate this movie with a passion. I hate feeling emotionally manipulated, I hate trite catch phrases (think "box of chocolates"), and I hate playing off American sentimentality by glorifying the South. One of my least favorite books, you may be wondering, is The Prince of Tides. So you can imagine that I approached this book with an ookie feeling inside. I would never have chosen this book; it was picked for book club. I'm going to be honest and say that I liked it more than I thought I would. If Sue Monk Kidd can create a house and a life that I could clearly imagine and want to be a part of, then she did part of her job as a writer. She beautifully captures the beekeeping and the crazy pink house and the weather and the food and the atmosphere.

But I think the other part of being a writer is not relying on cliches and tidy story lines to tell your story. And the characters! I hate to say it, but I felt like there was a tiny bit of the magical negro going on here. It all just seemed too perfect. This group of Mary-worshipping black women, led by the beekeeping August, who all seem to have been plunked down in that pink house for the sole purpose of helping Lily discover who she is by learning about her mother. Sure, you can argue that they were strong and independent black women, yet without Lily (the young white girl) what are they really? What's their story? You get a glimpse of it, and yet it is absolutely secondary to Lily and her story and her needs, and that, honestly, makes me really uncomfortable.


Blogger Make!Do! said...

Agreed. One hundred percent agreed!

February 14, 2009 at 2:35 PM  
Blogger bellcurves said...

Speaking of cliches, have you read Sue Monk Kidd's "The Mermaid Chair"? Talk about a predictable plot. I went into that book w/ high hopes b/c of the popular reviews of "Secret Lives of Bees" (both the movie and book). I hadn't--and still haven't--read or seen either of those. Kidd is a decent *descriptive* writer, though, I think. It's interesting, too, what you say about the black characters in Secret Lives....gosh, why didn't we have an American Lit seminar together in college? (Or did we, perhaps?).

February 15, 2009 at 7:35 AM  
Blogger Thomas said...

What is the best way to contact you with my book recommendations, Arajane?

March 10, 2009 at 1:44 AM  

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