The Secret Life of Bees

Sue Monk

The Secret Life of Bees is a book by author Sue Monk Kidd. This is a mesmerizing novel about women with extraordinary gifts coping with loss, finding forgiveness and especially, learning to forgive themselves. Kidd's strong, irresistible voice catches us up and doesn't let go.

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Set in South Carolina in 1964, this is the tale of Lily Owens, a 14 year-old girl who is haunted by the memory of her late mother. To escape her lonely life and troubled relationship with her father T-Ray, Lily flees with Rosaleen, her caregiver and friend, to a South Carolina town that holds the secret to her mother's past. Taken in by the intelligent and independent Boatwright sisters, Lily finds solace in their mesmerizing world of beekeeping.


Rosaleen becomes the Owens family’s housekeeper after Lily’s mother dies. She is a large, African-American woman who is not certain of her age. Rosaleen becomes like a mother to Lily.

T. Ray is Lily’s father, whom she calls “T. Ray.” He is the novel’s antagonist, or the force that provides an obstacle for the protagonist. T. Ray is a cruel man who pays little attention to Lily aside from yelling at her and disciplining her harshly. T. Ray makes Lily’s life miserable and will not tell her anything about her mother except that Lily was responsible for her death.

Deborah is Lily’s mother, who died when Lily was only four years old. Lily thinks about her mother everyday and must learn more about her in order to develop her own identity. When Lily moves in with the Boatwright sisters, she learns that he mother was not who Lily wanted her to be.

August is a beekeeper who lives in a bright pink house in Tiburon, SC. She is an African-American woman and sells Black Madonna Honey. She and her sisters, May and June, let Lily and Rosaleen stay with them.

Zach works for August. Zach is African American and Lily develops a crush on him, even though Zach tells her that nothing can happen between them. Zach goes to jail for a short time when he will not admit which of his friends was involved in an altercation with some white men. Eventually Zach is released and gives Lily her first kiss.

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I think in this book is exposed the problem of racism. In more parts in book people suffered. Racism is defined as the belief that the human species is divided into races, which can be ranked as inherently superior or inferior to others, and the actions which result from those beliefs.

About the author

Sue Monk Kidd was born on August 12, 1948. She is a writer from the South United States, best known for her novel, The Secret Life of Bees. She graduated from Texas Christian University in 1970 and later took creative writing courses at Emory University and Anderson College, as well as studying at Sewanee, Bread Loaf, and other writers conferences.