Prior to listening to the audiobook by Sue Monk Kidd I had heard great things about the novel, The Secret Life of Bees. Even with all of the rave reviews I wasn’t prepared for the story to move me the way that it did. The narrator of the audiobook, Jenna Lamia, did a fabulous job. In her voice, the main character of the story, Lily Owens, came to life. I can only imagine how different my story experience would have been if the book were narrated by someone who did not do a fabulous job of making the characters live in my imagination.
The book is told through the troubled eyes of fourteen-year-old Lily Owens, who believes she is responsible for her mother’s death. Abused by her father, and missing the mother she loved, Lily is mostly cared for by a servant, Rosaleen, a black woman who becomes Lily’s stand-in mother.
When Rosaleen has a confrontation with three racist men and she is beaten, thrown in jail, and awaiting punishment that will certainly mean death. Lily helps Rosaleen escape from the guarded hospital and the two women head to Tiburon South Carolina, the place where Lily is drawn because of a label from a honey jar her mother left behind.
In Tiburon, Lily and Rosaleen are befriended by three African American sisters, August, June, and May, and Lily learns that her mother was loved by these three women and lived with them for a period of time before getting married. The oldest sister, August, is a beekeeper who runs her honey-making business out of the home the three sisters share. Through the strength and love of August and the sisters, Lily’s spirit is renewed as she heals and learns to let go of the guilt and anger she has carried in her heart.
If you haven’t read this book or listened to the audio version, I would really encourage you to check it out at the library and enjoy a great story.