Little Bee: Book Review


"We do not tell our stories. Our stories are the tellers of us." - Little Bee In his 2010 novel, Chris Cleave tells the story of Little Bee, a young Nigerian girl, and Sarah, a British woman, whose lives are forever changed when their paths cross on a Nigerian beach. Both of these main characters take turns narrating their sides of the story, until all the pieces fall into place and the reader understands the tangled web that their two lives have created.

I listened to the Audible audio book version of Little Bee narrated by Anne Flosnik and I would highly recommend listening to the book this way. Flosnik speaks in different voices for each character, truly bringing the suspense and emotions of the narrative to life.

Little Bee is a novel, a work of fiction, so it is important to read with discernment to separate out realistic information from fabricated story. For example, Little Bee, with the help of smugglers, makes her way to the UK. When she arrives she is held in detention for two long years. This is a realistic scenario, not only in Great Britain, but also in the U.S., and Little Bee's reflections on life in detention are perhaps some of the most powerful pages of the book. However, there are other aspects of the story that are decidedly less realistic, and while they make for a thrilling read, they will not necessarily help the reader understand more about the plight of asylum seekers, migrants, and refugees around the world.

Reading Little Bee has convicted me and inspired me to read more stories, both fiction and non-fiction, written by former refugees themselves. I have a long running list that I am working my way through. If you would like to join me, here are the next few I plan to read.

The Girl Who Smiled Beads, by Clemantine Wamariya

The Refugees, by Viet Thanh Nguyen

The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, by Dinaw Mengestu