Book Review: ‘Little Bee’ by Chris Cleave

Book Title: Little Bee

Author: Chris Cleave

Publisher: Reviewed by Faith Oneya

Published by : Simon and Schuster Paperbacks

Retail Price: Ksh. 1,650

Let me confess that I am all about the first few sentences when it comes to judging a book. If it does not excite me, then I will most likely put it back on the shelf! Chris Cleave’s first sentence gripped me by my dreadlocks and kept me head firmly in place as I read through the whole first page. Here is how it goes;

“Most days I wish I was a British pound coin instead of an African Girl. Everyone would be pleased to see me coming. Maybe I would visit with you for the weekend and then, suddenly , because I am fickle like that, I would visit with the man from the other shop instead-but you would not be sad because you would be eating a cinnamon bun, or drinking a Cold Coca Cola from the can, and you would never think of me again.”

This first paragraph assures you that you are in the company of a talented writer, and the rest of the book just goes ahead to confirm this.

Chris Cleave’s book revolves around the lives of two women: One-Little Bee, A young Nigerian Girl who has narrowly escaped death in Nigeria, and who finds her way to Britain, spending two years in the immigration cells finally finding her way out to find Sarah O’Rourke, editor of a posh British women’s magazine, a white British woman living with her husband and adorable son Charlie (Batman).

Sarah and Little Bee’s paths had collided under horrendous circumstances when they were in Nigeria. According to the book’s blurb, this is where the story begins.The story is told through alternating first-person narrations from the two main characters.Each narrator picks up the story from where the other left it in every new chapter.

Chris Cleave weaves magical sentences in this beautiful, haunting story. Each word, each punctuation mark, each sentence seems carefully, deliberately and accurately placed to fit in with the near-magical text.One is often tempted to forget that the book is political because of how much it dwells on humanity and its triumph.

Little Bee will charm you. Sarah will move you. You will adore  Charlie.

There is always that book that grips you from the first line and keeps its hands firmly around your heart and head so that the only thought that occurs to you after reading it is : “I have to read this book again.

Chris Cleave’s Little Bee will do this to you.

Despite all its beauty and accomplishments, there is a flaw in the book that happens in the last chapter where the plot seemed rushed, where as a reader, you feel a little short-changed at the sudden turn of events. It was not as convincing as it could have been. Then again, I will leave that for you to judge.

If you are looking for a gripping read, then go for this.





Author: Faith Oneya

Lover of the written and spoken word.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: ‘Little Bee’ by Chris Cleave”

  1. Faith, this is a well written review. I absolutely agree that it the first sentences in a book grabe us, we’re in.

    Nice work.

    Have noted it on my Future Reads list. Thanks for the recommendation.

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