The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd, was a book I'd had on the bookshelf for about a year and a half. I'm not sure if I ever picked it up, started it, and put it down, but I am certainly happy that I picked it back up again.
This is the story of a 14 year old girl, Lilly, living in South Carolina in 1964. She comes from a broken home where her mother died tragically when Lilly was only 4 and her father is a troubled soul who takes his misery out on his daughter at every turn. The only friend Lilly seems to have is the housekeeper, Rosaleen, a black woman who has been with Lilly's family for years.
Through a variety of twists and turns, all woven within the race riots and civil rights unrest of that time, Lilly and Rosaleen find themselves miles away from home living with a colorful group of sisters who take them in and shine light on lives that, for both Lilly and Rosaleen, have been anything but sunny.
This book sucked me in almost from the beginning and spoke to all of the different forms in which love can come into our lives. I was left with a really complete feeling after finishing this book; the characters were so well written and Kidd really got the essence of family, the essence of love, and the true meaning of what forgiveness is. I liked that there wasn't a ribbon tied around the book at the end, everything wrapped up all nicely with a perfectly happy ending. If anything, I think Kidd leaves you with the feeling that life is anything but perfect, or always happy, but that's the journey. And sometimes the people we end up letting into our little weird worlds are the ones we never thought would fit there at first glance... and that's beautiful.