The Secret Life of Bees is amazing! I stayed up past midnight Friday to get past the climax and finished the book on my break at work. ( I did not wear mascara in case I cried just as a patient showed up.) What and amazing story!
The author, Sue Monk Kidd, was a young teen in the south during the Civil Rights era and set the story in the year the Civil Rights Act was signed. The young heroine is with her nanny as she goes to register to vote but instead ends up in jail. Our heroine has vague memories of her mother's accidental death and definite knowledge that her father does not love her. She helps her nanny escape and they search out scraps of knowledge about her mother.
The woman who takes her in is August. She is a beekeeper and head of a home church combining the best of AME southern black churches (including the hats!) and Catholic devotion to Mary. As you read listen for the voice of Queen Latifa who played August in the movie; love that sound. But-- I can't believe Dakota Fanning played the girl--I haven't seen the movie yet. But the girl is on the cusp of womanhood and it is the strong but gentle voice of August that draws her to finding peace.
Its intended as a coming of age novel but it connects all the age old confusion about fathers, mothers, love, race, and God. And you will love Mother Mary more than ever:
"I feel her in unexpected moments, her Assumption into heaven happening in places inside me. She will suddenly rise, and when she does, she does not go up, up into the sky, but further and further inside me. August says she goes into the holes life has gouged out of us."