little bee

I’ve been reading
Chris Cleave’s novel Little Bee for
the past few days, and finished it last night. It is a
wonderful, moving, well-written story, and I encourage anyone who
is in search of a page-turner to run and pick it up from their
local bookstore. Little
is a deceptively deep book about a
Nigerian refugee whose tumultuous life crashes straight into that
of a suburban English mother. The story is told from both
perspectives of the women, and enough details are left out that the
reader becomes the third narrator, filling in the gaps based their
own interpretations of the books’ events. It is a
refreshingly un-political book that merely presents a story of two
human beings and allows the reader to use the information in
whatever way they wish. At the end of my paperback copy, there was
a question
and answer section
with the author. Mr. Cleave
cited one true story as inspiration for Little Bee which
I would like to pass along: “In 2001 an Angolan man named Manuel
Bravo fled to England and claimed asylum on the grounds that he and
his family would be persecuted and killed if they were returned to
Angola. He lived in a state of uncertainty for four years pending a
decision on his application. Then, without warning, in September
2005 Manuel Bravo and his 13-year-old son were seized in a dawn
raid and interned at an Immigration Removal Centre in southern
England. They were told that they would be forcibly deported to
Angola the next morning. That night, Manuel Bravo took his own life
by hanging himself in a stairwell. His son was awoken in his cell
and told the news. What had happened was that Manuel Bravo, aware
of a rule under which unaccompanied minors cannot be deported from
the UK, had
taken his own life in order to save the life of his son
Among his last words to his child were: ‘Be brave. Work hard. Do
well at school.’”* I don’t know why this particular story moved me
so much, but I found it heartbreakingly beautiful. I imagine
that things like this happen every day, and simply go unnoticed in
our rushed worlds full of babies, gasoline, and mortgages. I,
like Mr. Cleave, make no attempt to lecture or sway political
opinions; I am just sending this story out into the intellectual
ocean on an internet ice floe, thinking it may melt and raise the
temperature of the water one tiny tenth of a degree.
Have you read any good books lately?
I obviously just finished Little Bee, but
I also read The
English Patient
during my flights to and from
California, which I thought it was a great story. Next up:
watching the movie!
*Excerpt respectively taken from
Chris Cleave’s website,


2 Responses

  1. You read Little Bee!! It’s one of those books that you can’t stop thinking about after you’ve finished reading it. Let me know if you’ve read/will read any others of Chris Cleave’s books. I’ve been wondering if they’re similar.

    • I DID!!!!! It was unbelievable, thanks so much for the recommendation. I’m on a hunt for his other book, but the C-Park library didn’t have it the last time I was there. I may have to cave and just buy it haha.

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