by Isabel Joyce
Little Bee by Chris Cleave tells the inspiring story of a young female refugee from Nigeria struggling to survive in London. Although the book proves a lengthy read, the descriptions and depth of the characters help it evolve into a heartwarming and enjoyable story.
The novel begins with the protagonist, Little Bee, reflecting on her past. In her home country of Nigeria, a group of men took her hostage, but a British journalist saved her life. Fast forward two years and Little Bee now lives in London with the journalist, Sarah O’Rourke, where she struggles to transition into English society and come to terms with her memories.
Despite the wonderful imagery and detailed descriptions, the first part of the book is long and drawn-out, and at times boring. But once the action begins, the book transforms into a thrilling adventure narrative that becomes nearly impossible to put down.
Little Bee jam packs adventure, laughter, heartbreak, and love together into one engrossing and superbly written novel. The writing is easy to read with a seemingly effortless flow that helps the story progress.
Through flashbacks and voice, Cleave develops characters that come to life on the page. He possesses a unique ability to flesh out characters that truly speak to the audience and enhance the beauty of the novel.
Cleave utilizes flashbacks throughout the story in order to move the narrative along and provide a more authentic voice for the characters. They become more genuinely human as the story progresses, and the flashbacks reveal the significance of how the past can affect the present. It speaks to a natural human truth, that we carry our past with us into the present.
The novel closes unexpectedly, with an abrupt and heartrending ending that is sure to shock readers and a far cry from the languid beginning of the novel. Little Bee only picks up the pace as it progresses, and it delights readers to the end.
Overall, the book is a good and worthwhile read that also provides a new perspective on the difficulties faced by refugees.