The Secret Life of Bees


Author: Sue Monk Kidd

Title: The Secret Life of Bees Genre: Women’s Lives and Relationships

Publication Date: 2001

Number of Pages: 302

Geographical Setting: South Carolina

Time Period: 1960’s

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: Lily Owens accidentally shot and killed her mother when she was a young child. As she grows up, neglected by her father, she constantly thinks of the mother she barely remembers. Lily and the family servant Rosaleen run away to the only place Lily can think of; Tiburon, South Carolina. She picked this place because there was a picture of a black Madonna with the words Tiburon, South Carolina among her mother’s possessions, and she hopes to find out more information about her mother. She and Rosaleen find the headquarters for Black Madonna Honey in Tiburon, and the 3 black sisters August, June, and May Boatwright take them in. August becomes a mother figure to Lily and teaches her to find herself.

Subject Headings: African-American women; South Carolina; Teenage girls; Sisters; Beekeepers; African-American women beekeepers; Peach growers; Small town life; Fourteen-year-old girls; Father and daughter; Racism; Interracial friendship; Race relations

Appeal: Compelling, character centered, deliberate, dramatic, engaging, historical details, psychological, introspective, thought-provoking, strong secondary characters, tragic, sympathetic, emotionally charged, self discovery

3 terms that best describe this book: Coming of age, dramatic, interracial friendship

Similar Authors and Works


1. Teach Yourself Beekeeping by Adrian Waring- Guide to setting up and maintaining bees.

2. The Blueprint for My Girls: How to Build a Life Full of Courage, Determination, and Self-Love by Yasmin Shiraz- Teaches girls how to grow into confident women.

3. This is Where I Came In: Black America in the 1960’s by Gerald L. Early- History of the 1960’s through three prominent African Americans; Cecil B. Moore, Muhammad Ali, and Sammy Davis, Jr.


1. The Darkest Child by Delores Phillips- Tangy Mae is a fourteen-year-old girl who tells about the physical and mental abuse her mother inflicts on her and her ten siblings. It is darker than The Secret Life of Bees, but it deals with mother-daughter relationships and coming-of-age.

2. Her Own Place: A Novel by Dori Sanders- Mae Lee Barnes is a African-American high-school girl during World War II. She gets married, and her husband deserts her. She is left to raise five children in rural South Carolina.

3. The Help: A Novel by Kathryn Stockett- Set in the same time as The Secret Life of Bees, this book deals with race relations, interracial friendships, and is a very compelling story about maids in Jackson, Mississippi.

Name: Kim


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