It’s a big week for me and books. I am definitely looking for a little lighter reading now after this. I need some happy, I need some romance, I need some love. I need to feel lighter than I do right now.
Little Bee by Chris Cleave is a book I’m still thinking about long after I finished the pages.
It’s confronting. It makes you question yourself and who you are, really. This book reminded me of Blood Diamond (the movie, not the book). It’s set in Britain but the main characters are escaping a horror in Nigeria. Unfortunately it’s not that easy to run from your troubles.
The writing is exceptional, every paragraph, sentence and phrase thought out and carefully placed. The author is a planner, a researcher, a crusader of exposing truth but his downfall is probably that pre-planning.
Sometimes the characters miss the flesh they gain from thinking and speaking their own thoughts in the authors mind.
There are two kind of writers, the transcribers and the planners. Those who transcribe are constantly surprised and amazed by what their characters do, as if it is not themselves who are thinking it.
For the planners, their characters come to life by a series of questions the author asks himself and their actions are detailed out in the plot script, written before the book.
Chris Cleave is a planner. He researched the characters accent lilts, studied his own little boy’s speech patterns and immersed himself in his characters world by observation. Little Bee, the main character rings truer than Sarah, an English tourist who finds herself enveloped in the Nigerian political climate while on holiday.
In the opening chapters her actions show who she is but in the remainder of the book I felt that he was telling us who she was, not showing us, which made her part in the story a lot more wooden than the rest of the book.
As a storyteller Chris was putting into perspective what being in a detention centre means for refugees and trying to show the sheltered British public what it’s like to be on the inside. How lucky we are.
I thank my lucky stars that I was born in this life, in a country with democracy and freedom, but the guilt eats at me now. I believe that something should be done about the way refugees are treated and yet I have no background, real information or solution. I also have no desire to take up the crusade, like so many brave people out there. So this book gives me empathy and guilt.
It’s a conscience examiner. As you will the characters to be brave and take a stand – it makes you take a cold hard look at your position on the couch.