The Secret Life of Bees

by Sue Monk Kidd

Read time: about 5 minutes

Bees have power over death. They are understood to be the halo of life in the melancholy of darkness. Albert Einstein rightly predicted that the entire human population would disappear in four years should all the bees in the world decide to die or get killed. A set of creatures this small possessing massive amount of power over the existence of life on earth gives some important lessons of life to Lily too. This book which brought the author ‘Sue Monk Kidd’ into the limelight is the story of Lily during the great civil rights movement in United States. The book went on to win a number of awards and was made into a film.

It turned out to be a great book to come around to reading 10 books this year that I have always wanted to but kept procrastinating.

Cover page

I am lucky enough to come across an ancient edition of this book in a used book store in my city. This is the hardback edition published in hardback by ‘Review’. The cover page features the beehive and some objects that feature in the story. The entire book is purple in color which is the color of the honey when bees start ducking in elderberries. The cover page is rich with content and significance. A dust jacket like this one makes the books beautiful outside.

The words inside are large enough to read. This is what is most appealing about the book. Especially when the story is great you do not want to deal with small fonts that make your reading troublesome.


Lily is suffering from ever present guilt. She killed her mother accidentally when she was four and now she lives on wishing things turned out different, namely her mother not dying, T-Ray loving her just a little bit more and her classmates inviting her to parties that they attended. Lily’s dreams of being a professor or a writer.

Lily is the central character in the book. She is surprisingly strong and hopeful. There are other characters in the book who have their own uniqueness. Every new character that you meet is written with the freshness of the raindrop.


Lily lives at her farmhouse with Rosaleen and T-Ray.

T-Ray is her family but he hardly feels like it. In the entire book Lily is chasing the ghost of her mother. She is constantly driven by a guilt. The only thing that she thinks about is the hope of an alternate reality. She wants to live in peace and make something out of her life but before that she has to clarify few things.

So one fine day when she can no longer be with T-Ray she runs away from the house. The story that follows is the series of events that happen to her on the run and living with three African American sisters who may have know her mother in the past. She feels at home with them, but forgets it’s hardly so. T-Ray is searching for her. And them comes the real revelation. It may not help Lily but she now for sure knows what her next step is going to be.

The story is beautiful. Lily is a brave girl and so are others in the story. The tale of bees is interesting too. There is a revolution happening in the background which adds flavor to the saga.


The story is narrated by Lily. It is a little childish but still too deep. The perspective is quite interesting. The slow transformation of the characters is notable too.

Good points

The book cover is beautiful. I own a worn out copy but I plan to gift it to a couple of friends who might like it. I am surely going to try and get this edition. The characters are way too deep and there evolution is well seen during the course of the story.

Bad points

I was not fully satisfied with the ending. I was expecting something drastic like a bang! But I guess I was wrong in expecting it altogether. The language itself is very calm and surreal. An end with a bang would be out of place. But still…..


Overall, I am elated to have reviewed the first book that I have finished in my TBR shelf. I am happy to have read it this year.

Who do I recommend it to

This books of for literary fiction readers. Those who love strong characters will find it interesting.

Quotable quotes

Someone who thinks death is the scariest thing doesn’t know a thing about life.

Knowing can be a curse on a person’s life. I’d traded in a pack of lies for a pack of truth, and I didn’t know which one was heavier. Which one took the most strength to carry around? It was a ridiculous question, though, because once you know the truth, you can’t ever go back and pick up your suitcase of lies. Heavier or not, the truth is yours now.

It is the peculiar nature of the world to go on spinning no matter what sort of heartbreak is happening.

There is nothing perfect…only life.

Sunset is the saddest light there is.

And when you get down to it, Lily, that is the only purpose grand enough for a human life. Not just to love but to persist in love.

There’s nothing like a song about lost love to remind you how everything precious can slip from the hinges where you’ve hung it so careful.

Veena Choudhary

An avid reader and history fanatic.

Mumbai, MH