Little Bee

by Chris Cleave

{ 2008 | Sceptre | 368 pgs }

I bought this on the Kindle because of its inviting blurb: “We don’t want to tell you too much about this book. It is a truly special story and we don’t want to spoil it.”

I’m going to spoil it for you.

This is a story about an orphan Nigerian refugee girl and a British couple. It isn’t so much tragic as just plain depressing. The storytelling is interesting – it alternates narration from the Nigerian girl (Little Bee) and the British wife, unfolding the plot from end to beginning. Unfortunately, the British wife was so extremely unlikeable that I never felt the proper pity or sympathy for her.

I think the book was meant to make you feel indignant, or sad about the way things are, or motivated to make a difference in the world, but all I really felt was depressed. I understand that in real life, people aren’t easily categorized as good or bad. But in a book I think you need to have at least one character that you can admire or even connect to!

As a side note, the book was originally called The Other Hand, which is a much, much better title for the story. I can’t imagine why they changed it. They ought to have asked me my opinion first.

Well, my opinion is to skip this one. There are plenty of books to make you feel guilty for being privileged, and a lot of them are better stories with better writing than Little Bee.