Little Be by Chris Cleave is the story of two women from two different worlds who end up colliding through a tragic incident. Little Bee is a young woman who is in an immigration detention center outside of London, England. Originally from Nigeria, she fled from her mother country because of men who murdered her family, only to find herself detained in another uncomfortable circumstance. Sarah is a British magazine editor who happened to be with her husband on a beach in Nigeria when Little Bee and her sister ran across her path. The story picks up in England a couple years later. Little Bee is just getting out of jail, and Sarah’s husband has just committed suicide. In each other, these two women find a comrade. Sarah and Little Bee struggle with the past horror they both went through and look to a future where they can both be freed from the pain of what was inflicted upon them.
On the back of the book, there is very little description given as to what the plot of the story is. “Once you have read it, you’ll want to tell your friends about it. When you do, please don’t tell them what happens. The magic is in how the story unfolds.” That is the quotation from the back cover and it is a letdown. This is a great marketing technique to make readers want to know the mystery behind the story, but all in all, this was not a Sixth Sense kind of novel where you cannot give away the ending or ruin the story. Like many novels, you are not given the full story at the beginning, it unfolds for you.
What makes this novel think it is so special that readers must be forewarned not to talk about it with those who haven’t read it? If its only special feature is that you don’t know the major plot point prior to reading it, it’s a pretty pathetic novel.
The novel is split between the voice of Little Bee and Sarah. I found myself rolling my eyes during Little Bee’s chapters. The writing is well done, but the things the author has Little Bee say and think are a little out there. It was over the top. Sarah is practical, but Little Bee is more of a dreamer, which makes sense when you find out the meaning of her real name.
I didn't particularly like the characters and I wasn't a fan of the story. I liked where the story was starting to go at the end, but then was disappointed by the vague ending.
If you are into immigration issues and refugees, then this is a book that may interest you. For me, it didn't do anything. It brought to light that yes, we have issues with immigrants and this young woman’s story was tragic, but I just wasn't interested. Maybe that makes me like everyone else who overlook real world problems, but this is my fun reading time, damn it! I’m allowed to overlook problems when I need an escape.