Sunday, June 13, 2010

Little Bee (2008)

This short but powerful book by Chris Cleave is about two women, one middle-aged, one young; one white, one black; one educated, one self-educated; one English, one Nigerian; one free, the other not. The chapters alternate between the two of them as their stories converge, separate, and converge again.

It is a short enough book that giving facts about the plot would give up too much of it. Here is an excerpt from the book:

Three weeks and five thousand miles on a tea ship - maybe if you scratched me you would still find that my skin smells of it. When they put me in the immigration detention center, they gave me a brown blanket and a white plastic cup of tea. And when I tasted it, all I wanted to do was to get back into the boat and go home again, to my country. Tea is the taste of my land: it is bitter and warm, strong, and sharp with memory. It tastes of longing. It tastes of the distance between where you are and where you come from. Also it vanishes - the taste of it vanishes from your tongue while your lips are still hot from the cup. It desappears, like plantations stretching up into the mist. I have heard that your country drinks more tea than any other. How sad that must make you - like children who long for absent mothers. I am sorry.

Two cultures come together and try to help each other as they are able, not enough for either in the end. I highly recommend this book.

My rating for this book: ++++

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