- I like bees and honey, and that was why I picked this book.
- Bitches get shit done.
I really need to start by saying that I felt very connected to the different female leads in this book. I’m also a big sucker for a good coming of age story, the fact that this took place in the Southern countryside just sweetened (hehe, honey) the deal. Everyone, who knows me, knows that I am partial to the country life (the romanticized kind of course).
Sue Monk Kidd undoubtedly has a knack of setting the scene and describing events in detail. At any given time I could feel the sweltering summer South Carolina heat, smell the sweetness of wild honey, hear the crickets in the fields, and be in the middle of a fierce discussion between the main characters. I indeed was part of the lives of May, June, August, Rosaleen, and Lily; and I could relate to each one of them at some point or another. Btw, I would totally be February!
Lily is a young teenager destitute of any emotional support. Her stand-in mother (aka the maid) Rosaleen is the closest she has to family. When the two of them decide to run away (for reasons I won’t mention so not to spoil the story), they both get the chance at a new life with three African-American sister beekeepers. Lily is desperate for family and companionship and the sisters are just what she needed. She wants to believe that her dead mother is who she always thought she was, but that’s not so certain (though the secret may lie with the Black Mary pasted on each one of the honey jars sold by the sisters). While Lily slowly meets her true self, Rosaleen discovers the feeling of freedom in the midst of the Civil Rights movement, and May, June, and August find solace in each other. Sue Monk Kidd beautifully paints each one of the female leads, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses, and herein lies the charm of this book.
Discovering the story through Lily’s eyes, however, is the best part of the novel. Spanning childish naivete to profound wisdom makes for a wonderful narrator and her internal monologue can teach each one of us a little something. August who really is Lily’s confidant truly represents so many mothers out there (biological and chosen ones) personifying hope and confidence. This book is not just a coming of age story but also an homage to all the wonderful women that we encounter in our daily lives and their struggles and successes. Each one of the main characters is perfect and imperfect, beautiful and ugly, wise and stupid; bold and shy, and all the other things we are too. Read the book and see for yourself!