Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Little Bee (copy)

My name is Little Bee, and I changed my name in order to hide which village I am from in Africa. The oil companies have found their precious product on our lands and I am no longer safe. The same oil companies hired nasty men to kill all the people and burn down each village instead of dealing with tribal leaders. I made it out but my sister, Kindness, was not as lucky.

I now wait in a gray detention center outside of London. The walls are gray, the tiles are gray, the whites of our clothes are gray, the sky is gray, and my heart is gray. Whatever I do, I cannot bring the yellow of sunshine into my body. No matter how hard I look at the sky, blue will not enter my heart. I cannot eat the green grass all around me for I know it will taste like slate. If I could raise a flag for us refugees it would be the color gray.

The center is not all bad. They do separate us from the men at night. We have our compound and they have theirs. During the day I see how they look at the flowers in our group. The pretty girls who dress in the best clothes the hand-me-down bins offer are flowers. The men stare in wait. It is like the wild animal licking his lips.

I make myself less flower like. Early, before they open our compound doors, I wrap my chest in gauge as tight as possible. I want them to think I am very young, too young to bother. To complete my child look, I wear baggy pants and a horrid red Hawaiian shirt. My boots, a size small with reinforced steel toe, makes me feel like a little bee that hides her stinger.

Psst - I have a secret. I spend my days thinking of different ways to kill myself if the men come. It is a little game I play to keep me safe. For example, if the men corner me in the bathroom I will drown myself in the toilet bowl. If they catch me alone in the compound I will hang myself with the curtain pulls. For emergencies, I carry a small compact in my pants and will break the mirror to slit my arms. The nasty men will never get me.

Chris Cleave said he got the idea for his book Little Bee from his UK passport. He was once asked which 10 books he could not live without and one was his pass book or passport. He travels as a reporter for London’s Guardian newspaper and uses his to enter foreign lands seamlessly. If trouble occurs he can flash it and say I am a UK citizen and this is not my battle. Little Bee was written to show the plight of humans who do not own passports nor have a country that will protect them.


Anonymous said...

I've read your blog for about a year now and enjoy it. Always like to hear about what folks are reading. i read Little Bee a couple of months aga and it is a very good book but it is not a comforting book. The idea of such brutality and living in a country where you are unprotected.... disturbing concepts. Not a fun read but important. These books help open our eyes to the plight of many people. Thanks for the review.
KD in SC

maggie moran said...

Oh, KD! This stuff is heart wrenching! I was totally blown away by the true life cruelity found in A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah. The genocide occuring probably as I type is most disturbing! Wrote about the book here:
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog!!!

Anonymous said...

Yours is the first review I've read of this book that isn't vague aobut the plot. Everyone else has been intent on keeping it mysterious. A friend of mine who read it said he didn't think a summary would give anything away. I really must read it. It's been sitting in my TBR pile for ages!

maggie moran said...

Stephanie - I am enjoying the fact that it is written by a man but has two women for lead characters. The story is reverse chorno with Little Bee in London after the fact but her appearance has caused the male involved to kill himself. It is a tragic story but engaging.

Sharon said...

Maggie I bought this book a couple of weeks ago but haven't read it yet. I read A Long Way Gone last year and was saddned to think of all the children.

maggie moran said...

Sharon - This is fiction first, but also the side of the young females A Long Way Gone used to torture. All very sad and I would hate to read these back-to-back!