Little Bee (ˈlitl bē): A novel by Chris Cleave about a teenage illegal immigrant called Little Bee living in London and her relationships between Sarah, Lawrence and Charlie; a horrible book. I’m sorry for being so harsh, and it’s probably just me, but this book sucks. I mean, I get it’s supposed to be a ‘coming of age’ story and all ‘deep’ and ‘life-changing’ or whatever, but seriously – there are just so many things wrong with it.
First of all, the main character, Little Bee. For starters there’s the name – Little Bee. Yup, you heard me. Little Bee. Nope, she is not a bee, nor is she particularly little, which I find to be very misleading. I spent this book sighing whenever her name was mentioned. Then, at the end, when I had finally started getting used to her name, she changes her name to…wait for it…London Sunshine. Let that sink in. London Sunshine. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to laugh or burst into tears at that point. Oh but wait, it’s not over yet, cause only about three pages after the whole London Sunshine thing, guess what? You find out she has another name. Another name! “Little Bee is only my super hero name. I have a real name too, like you have Charlie” (Cleave 225). This is just ridiculous. By now I just rolled my eyes cause I was getting used to all this name-changing business. Okay, I admit, I’m being a little unfair and judgmental. After finishing this book, I realized the name changes were like small hints of when (Little Bee? London Sunshine? Her ‘real’ name? Whatever, I give up. I’m just gonna call her by the first one) Little Bee’s character was changing. The first name change was when she had immigrated from Nigeria, where she had grown up in, to London. The name London Sunshine was for “…the day [her] story changed…In [that] moment [she] very nearly named [herself] back to life”. It was to represent when she truly felt like she belonged in this world, had actual friends, Sarah and her little son Charlie, and believed that she was going to be okay. The last name, her real name, was mentioned straight after London Sunshine, but wasn’t revealed until the very last few pages. That name, Udo, was revealed after she had been deported back to Nigeria. Her friends, Sarah and Charlie came with so she wouldn’t feel alone, and had paid off a few guards in order for Little Bee to occasionally leave of the compound she was trapped in. One day, they were on a beach in Nigeria when some guards came walking down the beach looking for them. Little Bee gave herself up instead of hiding like Sarah told her to, so Sarah and Charlie wouldn’t get in trouble. At that moment, she told Charlie her real name.
Another thing that seriously bothered me was the ending. She had gone through this super great journey that changed her and all that, only to be carted away from her friends by some guards to who knows where! I mean, come on. I powered through this whole book – at least give me an ending! I don’t even need a happy one, just a ending. Also, I thought it should be mentioned that those guards were probably gonna kill her – what’s the point of her going through all these character changes only for her to most likely die right after? And in case you were thinking it’s a cliffhanger or something, it’s not – there’s no sequel, and there’s probably never going to be one seeing as how this book was published seven years ago. Likewise, she basically is a total weirdo at the end “I felt the hard hand of a soldier on my arm but I did not turn around…But me, I watched all of those children smiling and dancing and splashing one another in salt water and bright sunlight, and I laughed and laughed and laughed until the sound of the sea was drowned” (266). Ummm…you’re being captured and you start laughing? I don’t even know what’s happening there. It’s probably to show she’s at peace with who she is finally and happy, but to me she just seems kinda nuts.
This whole book was all just one weird thing after another. It’s most likely just me who thinks that because I don’t ‘get it’ or something. I mean, I do sympathize with Little Bee and all but this book was just too ridiculous for me for my eyes to even water a bit, much less shed a tear. Who knows? Maybe I’m just a super cold person and everyone else thinks it’s a sweet story about a girl who’s finally accepted herself as who she is at the end after facing several challenges along the way. However, from my point of view, the conclusion was just a ‘wonderful’ end to an even ‘greater’ book.
Side-note: I just noticed there is a tiny little person in white where the eyes of the black silhouette of a person are supposed to be on the cover. What is up with that?
Featured Image: here