“The Secret Life of Bees” is a novel of love and nearly extraordinary courage, the adventure of one young girl looking for her mother and so much more. Sue Monk Kidd takes on great things, and by writing about what is unknown, even hard, in life, emphasizes what is wonderful. She confirms that a family can be found where you do not expect it – perhaps not under your own roof, but in that mysterious place where you find love.
2. Lily and her complex relationship to her dead mother
Residing on a peach farm in South Carolina with her careless father, Lily Owens has framed her whole life around one demolishing, vague memory – the afternoon her mother died, when Lily was four. From that time, her only real friend has been kind, and sometimes fierce, black woman Rosaleen, who behaves as her “stand-in mother.”
The quest for her mother, and the need to mother oneself, are important elements in this well-composed coming-of-age novel. Lily takes the chance to leave home with her beloved nanny, Rosaleen, escaping to the only place she can think of – Tiburon, South Carolina – and decides to detect more about her dead mother. Nevertheless the plot lines are too neatly composed, “The Secret Life of Bees” is a well-crafted novel with an inspired description of character. The legend of the Black Madonna and the courage, kind, special women who perpetuate Lily’s story prevail the second part of the book, putting Kidd’s debut novel directly in the honored tradition of the Southern Gothic. Lily’s attitude to her dead mother is complicated, ranging from blame to idealization, to hatred, to admittance. She finds out that once her mother once left her. Lily’s reaction is incomprehensible. Her delusions about her mother were crashed. Lily was transferring the guilt from herself to her mother. Children have a difficult time dealing with their parent’s demerits. Lily was particularly having a difficult time dealing with the demerits of her mother. This was...