"A Scar Means, I Survived"

I'm a bit late on my book club review...

I have a confession to make, I didn't even finish reading the selection until Saturday (the day AFTER the book club posts were scheduled). I realized last week, probably about Monday or Tuesday that there was no way that I was going to make the deadline.

Charlotte, can I please get a pass? I'm sorry that I'm turning my report in late. I have a laundry list of excuses that I'll spare you from hearing (unless I need them).

I promise my tardiness is not a reflection on this month's selection, Little Bee, by author Chris Cleave.  The book has kind of left me reeling.  In fact, I feel like I probably need MORE time to process it properly before writing a truly thoughtful review.  But, I'll give it a stab anyway.  There were many, many things I enjoyed about the book.  The first being the voice of the title character herself.

From the first chapter I was drawn into the book, not because I felt passionate about the story or the issues it raised, but more because I fell in love with Little Bee.  As a character she possessed strength and resilience without compromising her gentle heart or her sense of humor.  Though she was a victim, she continued to fight to keep her life (or death) from being dictated by the atrocities she had experienced. 

While the story line itself was not particularly captivating to me, (the whole immigration issue just makes my head and heart hurt... it's one that I shamefully admit to pulling an ostrich on because I don't see an easy/right answer) Cleave's skillful prose and literary techniques kept me turning pages.  I particularly enjoyed how he structured the novel.  The way the story began in the middle and slowly built momentum by revealing details backwards through time was clever.  But I was pleased when he then quickly jumped back to the story's middle to move forward toward its conclusion.  It made the novel just non-linear enough to keep me interested without totally confusing and frustrating me.

But his words... wowzers. There was a wealth of memorable passages so beautifully written that I was tempted to pull out the highlighter just so I wouldn't lose the rich and weighty prose.  Not only are they poetic they are often razor sharp.  Cleave is a master wordsmith.
"Imagine how tired I would become, telling my story to the girls from back home.  This is the real reason why no one tells us Africans anything.  It is not because anyone wants to keep my continent in ignorance.  It is because nobody has the time to sit down and explain the first world from first principles.  Or maybe you would like to, but you can't.  Your culture has become sophisticated, like a computer, or a drug that you take for a headache.  You can use it, but you cannot explain how it works.  Certainly not to girls who stack up their firewood against the side of the house." (128)
While I'm still not sure that I loved every element of the book's plot, I am so glad to have experienced (and frankly to still be experiencing) Little Bee.  I would definitely recommend it to others and I can't wait to read the other book clubber's insights.  Most importantly, it's already forced me to pull my head out of the sand and begin to contemplate the immigration issue for myself.  {That alone made it a worthwhile read.}

For more reviews of Little Bee check out Charlotte's blog The Daily Snapshot.

Okay, so I'm opening up the floor... got any thoughts on Immigration?