“One of the most vividly memorable and provocative characters in recent contemporary fiction… Cleave paces the story beautifully, lacing it with wit, compassion, and, even at the darkest moments, a searing ray of hope.” – Boston Globe
(LITTLE BEE is published in the UK, Ireland and Australia as THE OTHER HAND).
Learn more about the real world of refugees, asylum seekers and violence caused by the oil industry.
Read the first chapter of LITTLE BEE
Read a Q&A about why I wrote LITTLE BEE
Go behind the scenes with this reading group guide
479 thoughts on “Little Bee”
Hello! I’m Mark from Philippines and I found your book on bargain shops. I was deeply moved by your book! I liked it very much! I can’t wait to read Incendiary and Gold! Hope I could find your latest book, Everyone Brave Is Forgiven also. Thank you very much!
Thanks very much Mark, glad you liked Little Bee. Hope you’ll enjoy the other ones too. All good wishes!
Dear Mr. Cleave,
I have just read the book in the library. The story is so attractive that I can’t stop read it. At first, I had no idea about refugee, thank you for writing their stories, let us know more about the world.
I had to read Little Bee at school and I just finished reading. Would you like to tell me where you first got the idea to write about immigration? And where you got the idea of a Nigerian girl and all these details about her journey?
I wished for a happy end and I’m still in doubt about the ending, if it was a happy end or not. What did you intended with this end?
Greetings from Luxembourg.
I had to read the book in school as well, when we talked about the ending we kind of discovered something? The name she choose for herself London sunshine had a heavy start but a light ending as she described it and maybe that is the same with her story a heavy start but a light ending , because she also talked a lot about how scars are beautiful they mean you survived so you can tell their story. I think she made it.
Chris Cleave was raised in Cameroon which is on the boarder of Nigeria. This is probably his inspiration of his novel.
I just wanted to tell you that your book, little bee (or the other hand as it is called in other areas) changed my life. I was given a copy of this book at a college orientation club fair and initially, I just saw your book as a free gift. When I started reading, I couldn’t stop. I put myself in the place of little bee and was suprised to discover how quickly her life becme my own. This book was by far the best I had read. I was also shocked to learn that this had not yet been made into a film. I would just like to say that you are a brilliant man for writing this book. If ever Little Bee is ready to be immortalized in film, you shall see me as the first in line to audition for her role.
Finished Little Bee and loved it! My concern is the lower case usage of the word “god.” I found it at least thirteen times in your book as a lower-case word and five times used with an upper-case letter. The only times I found it with a capital letter was when the word “God” began a sentence. One sentence reads, “My God, my god why hast thou forshaken me?” Help me to understand if this was an editing mistake or if you intended God to be written in lower-case. As a teacher, I instruct my students that if the word God is used in referrence to a pagan god than it is used with a lower-case letter. Was this an editing oversight or the way you wanted it printed? Help me to understand why it was like this throughout the book. Thanks
Chris Cleave, I would never have chosen a book with that title or that cover, “Just another….” but my library book club “had” to read it. What a loss if I had not read it. I am a lit
professor, and love to read books that have both intellectual and human understanding AND a good story WELL TOLD. I never ever wanted to put it down. Thank you, also, for handling a woman narrator, actually two women, so believably. I keep wondering, how did he DO it? Thanks. Dr. Helen Bonner PhD Lit and Communication California
I read this book in 2009 and it remains one of my favorites of all time. I also read and enjoyed Incendiary and Gold. Please tell me you are planning to write another soon!
I just started reading this book, however; I am amazed at the talent of Mr. Cleave. To write not only from a female perspective, but then the perspective of a woman from a differing cultural background is amazing. I am rapidly falling in love with the female Nigerian character who’s name has not as of yet been divulged. Thus far my favorite choice of words from the book are: (In reference to the English language) “Every word can defend itself. Just when you go to grab it, it can split into two separate meanings so the understanding closes on empty air.” What an eloquent way to describe the difficulty of the English language due to the offshoot of slang words that encompass it.
The dedication page is for Joseph in this book. I had a very special Joseph in my life who was as colorful as this character. For all of these reasons I think that this will be a book that I will cherish and share for many years to come.
Little Bee – surprising and beautiful, as you had hoped, Chris. And I enjoyed it, also as you hoped, according to the letter you left at the end of Little Bee. Though a painful story at times, the process of reading the book – so graceful, spare, and “undramatic” while telling of dramatic, even cataclysmic life events, made it a deeper experience, touching both my assumptions and my heart – and that makes it, for me, an enjoyable read.
And oh my – learning her name – Udo – the scene with Charlie was so sad, so hopeful, and so filled with tenderness and love…and peace, yes, I got that… That scene will stay with me, saving me from imagining the scenes “after.”
Little Bee was my introduction to your work, so I will now go with pleasure to buy all of your books. Thank you for your dedication to your craft, and thank your family for all the ways in which they help make it possible for you to write.
Loved Little Bee and am hoping there is news regarding it being made into a movie? Have also read and thoroughly enjoyed Incendiary and Gold. Looking forward to reading your next masterpiece Chris! All the best.
Dear Mr. Cleave,
I am a senior high school student at Newton High in Newton, Kansas. Several of my classmates and I recently read Little Bee for a AP English class and have a few questions for you if you don’t mind answering.
How did you come up such an interesting story line? What ever happens to Lawrence? Do the soldiers end up killing Little Bee or just taking her into custody.
We all very much enjoyed reading Little Bee and would definitely recommend it to fellow peers. It portrayed everything clearly and shined a little light on to problems we tend to ignore.
Looking forward to hearing from you!
I recently re-read Little Bee, after reading it several years ago. Your book changed my life. I am a lawyer in the US, having no prior immigration experience. After reading Little Bee, I began handling asylum cases on a pro bono basis. The first case I was assigned involved an African woman who had escaped horrific torture and persecution for her work helping rape victims. She was forced to leave her children and husband behind. My favorite day as a lawyer in almost 25 years of practice did not take place in a courtroom-but in an airport watching my client’s four young children come through International Arrivals. She had not seen them in almost two and a half years. I thank you for writing this extraordinary book- I know it has touched so many lives around the world. My very best, Leslie
I started reading The Other Hand when the book was released and could not stop reading it! I cried a lot too. Then, I greedily read every new book and felt exactly the same when I read them. I really really tried not to read them too fast as I want to enjoy them as much as I can, but this is a real challenge. How can you write such moving, intelligent and beautiful stories that you cannot forget once it is finished? This is truly a rare gift.
I am really looking forward to reading your next novel. I have already fallen in love with its title!
Thank you for writing so beautifully and for relentlessly challenging the reader.
A French reader,
Hey Chris! I will be sending you a letter here soon, and I was wondering where I should send it to.. Should I just send it to your publisher, or should I call and get info on where to send it?
I just finished reading Little Bee – picked it up off the shelf, not knowing anything about it. It was amazing, thought provoking, warm, sad and haunting all at once. It was also a great story! Now I’m gonna have to get my hands on a copy of “Incendiary”.
What would you see is the theme of the book Little Bee?
Thank you for writing! You were born to be an author. I read “Little Bee” first without knowing about “Incendiary” and I couldn’t put it down. “Incendiary” was also just as amazing. Your ability to write in so many different voices and to give them an entire world, it’s truly incredible. I’ve also read “Gold” and I just hope you have another novel coming out soon, as I would love to hear more from you. So thank you for being my favorite author!
Hi Dallas, thank you – I am very grateful to you for reading all of my books, and for your very kind comments. Since you ask, I do have a new book coming out! It is called EVERYONE BRAVE IS FORGIVEN and I think it will be published in early 2016. I hope you will enjoy it. I have tried to go to a new level with it, and you can be the judge of whether I have achieved that or not. I hope the novel will be very immersive for its readers – it certainly pulled me into its world for the last couple of years. Thanks again for what you said – it means a lot to me.
In two more days I will begin your book L.B. with a group of college students at Geneva College here in Western Pa. This is an overtly Christian college and I am thrilled to use your book as a way to examine evil in our world…Now that I am 63, yours is a book that I WISH someone had made me read in college…thanks for your work…the adventure for me begins!!!!
I found a copy of “Little Bee” in a used bookstore. Excellent writing and the story pulled me in from the first sentence. I’ve never had a book “haunt me” like this one has. The graphic description of her sister’s death continues to play in my mind. I was bitterly disappointed with the ending. It seemed so wrong to keep the reader hanging and never knowing what happened to Little Bee. Maybe this is what the author intended, but I have no desire to read more books by Chris Cleave. If all his books are an emotional roller coaster that leave the reader hanging in midair, then I’m not interested. I invested too much emotional energy into Little Bee to never know what happened.
Hi Jeanne, thank you very much for reading the book. I’m so sorry the ending left you unhappy. My idea when I write is that I try to create a very intense energy in the character, which I attempt to transfer from the page and into the life of the reader at the end. I find that if I close the book too neatly, the energy is trapped in the book instead of transferring to the reader. (Sorry if this sounds a little esoteric!) Mine is quite an experimental approach to ending novels, and it doesn’t always seem to work. Sorry if it left you unhappy – that isn’t my intention. All good wishes – Chris.
Hey Chris, I just want to say that your book was not only moving, inspiring, and believable, but encouraging as well. the intricate detailed description in which you allowed the story of Little Bee to unfold is nothing less than a work of genius. What I enjoyed most was the clever way you were able to transition from the story of one female character to another. I chose the English course I am now taking to hopefully enhance my ability as a writer. I have to say that reading your creative work in Little Bee is truly a bonus . Well, I don’t want to keep raveling on so I will end my comments by simply saying thank you for an inspirational job well done. Best wishes on future works.
Dear Chris Cleave!
I’ve just read Little Bee as a school-project, and I’m really happy that I chose that book!
I love the book about Little Bee and Sarah! And I love the way you write! 🙂
For my project I just wondered:
-What was your inspiration for Little Bee
-And I’ve also read that you grew up in Cameroon in Africa, and I just wondered if you got some inspiration from the time you lived there?
Best regards from Ingrid, from Norway!
I read Little Bee a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed it very much, but what those monsters did to Little Bee’s sister on the beach still haunts me , it was so graphic!! Also I think it is a shame that the story ended “up in the air”so to speak. Not knowing what happened to Little Bee when the soldiers took her away and what Sarah did afterwards is frustrating.
Caro Chris Cleave,
Desculpe por estar escrevendo essa mensagem em português, o que dará um certo trabalho para você traduzir, mas é que acabei de ler Pequena Abelha e estou tão maravilhada e emocionada que não me senti bem em elaborar o meu texto em inglês. Acho que também preciso aprender um pouco mais de sua língua para isso. =)
Bem, eu só queria agradecer pelo belíssimo livro que você escreveu. Pequena Abelha me proporcionou pensar tão alto e me entragar para uma aventura. Foi o começo de ano perfeito. A partir dessa história eu me sinto diferente. Em vários momentos eu me indetifiquei completamente, o que me surpreendeu muito. Pequena Abelha me fez ter vontade de escrever, conversar, debater sobre o livro e recomendar essa história tão bonita.
Muito obrigada, Chris
Ter pessoas como você nos contando história como essa é uma dádiva.
Abraços de sua mais nova fã. Diretamente do Pará, norte do Brasil.
I’m a Nigerian in Nigeria just reading Little Bee. Lovely book it is. One of those books you read and keep in your safe deposit box in a bank. Good job Mr Cleave!
I just finished Little Bee a couple weeks ago. I am curious to why it its not on sparknotes. But I loved it. Everything was perfectly portrayed. My friend is Nigerian and it was great to discuss this novel with her. I am looking forward to reading your other novels.
Both my friend and I read your book. I loved it! Upon finishing this book both my friend and I have come to some arguments. The main argument we have with each other is the outcome of Udo. On the very last page your book talks about how Udo is watching Charlie play and she is laughing until she can’t even hear the crashing waves behind her. I thought for sure that these soldier were their to kill her. My friend thinks otherwise.
So, Mr. Cleave, my friend and I were wondering what, in fact, you were alluding to, whether Udo lives or dies.
Thank you so much,
I’ve just started reading Little Bee for the second time in anticipation of sharing it with my Toastmaster’s Group. Given an assignment to present a 12 to15-minute reading, I considered lots of excellent writers, but settled on your work because I couldn’t think of anyone else who triggered such a breathtaking range of emotion, making me laugh and cry…in the same paragraph! Though it will be challenging to do justice to your writing, it’s absurdly easy to find a good selection. I opened chapter two at random and struck pay dirt…quite literally. Thank you for writing with such heart.
Thank you Mr. Cleave for the amazing book. It was really touching. I loved the Batman( Charlie ) and Udo. The two were my favorite. But as I read the story, it seemed a bit complex with the oil conflict. I wasn’t quite sure with it. But still, the book was amazing. Thank you so Much.
Why is Little Bee wearing an engagement and wedding ring on the cover of the book?
Loved the book Little Bee. Can’t wait until it comes out in a movie. What a talented writer . I have also read your other books.
I downloaded LITTLE BEE randomly as I was trying to figure out how to work my Kobo e-reader – I’m so glad I did. I can’t remember the last novel I read that drew me into the characters’ lives the way your novel did (I’ll be thinking about Little Bee and Batman for a long time to come). I’m a Canadian kids’ writer, and your mastery of your craft leaves me wondering how I ever thought I could be a writer. My first novel, A HARE IN THE ELEPHANT’S TRUNK, is the fictionalized story of one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, Jacob Deng, who is now a Canadian citizen and a friend of mine. I can’t wait to read GOLD. Thank you so much for sharing your talent.
I give The Other Hand five stars. It’s tragic, it’s funny, it makes you think. It captured me. One of the books that was hard for me to put down after I started reading.
Hi Chris. The Other Hand made a profound impression on me and it was so nice to talk to you about the book at the Copenhagen book fair…less than 24 hours after finishing reading it. Looking forward to reading Gold.
to said that Little Bee was just a book that it was given at college, it will be a lay. I love it, and even though my whole class is using other stories and other authors for their research papers I choose Little Bee. This book was amazing and I can say how easy was to follow. I felt every little piece of this book… And I will say it, I cry, I cry like a baby!!
Chris your work is unbelievable! please keep writen….
Loves from Argentina
A great read. Is this based on real refugee’s time in a detention centre and subsequent release without papers. It seems so realistic, although I hate to think that refugees are treated so inhumanely. We in the west cannot come close to imagining how so many others suffer, can we?
I am half way through reading “Little Bee” and am really enjoying it and the style of writing from the two main characters. I was wondering how much of the Nigerian refugee’s life in the UK initially is based on fact. It seems very realistic, but horribly inhuman. I am glad this book was recommended to our book-club.
Mr. Cleave, having just read Little Bee you awaken me again to the plight of the Mexian and other illegal immigents to the US. It is a sad day knowing how the average citizen looks upon these folks and it is these folks that harvest our crops and roofs our houses and does all kinds of work the average white person runs from.
I am grateful for the talent you have as a writer and to give us the beautiful stories of Little Bee and Gold. I am on to the next book Incendiay as quickly as possible. I will look forward to the movie
Little Bee was amazing! i am so glad i read it, and thank you for writing such a fantastic book. This book has made a difference in my life, and my view on things, and i hope to read some of your other books.
again, thank you.
Hi Sally – thank you very much – I’m delighted the book meant something to you.
I just finished your book Little Bee, i immediately went to the internet to find out about the movie. When will it be out?
Hi Kia – glad you liked the book. The movie is making progress, and I will post the info here and on Twitter when it comes out – sorry I don’t know more at this stage!
when will we ever learn , I was asked to carry out a feasibility study by a bio oil company, they promised a future and hope to the poorest people with no intention of fulfilling those promises …you see their aim was to collect world grants . The awful thing was it actually was feasible, for my part i realised this early on and bowed out of the programme .
Your portrayal of your main characters was heart wrenching , as a novel i congratulate you, as a thought provoking piece again i congratulate you
I truly hope one day there will be globalisation .
ı am from Turkey, I am lawyer here..
I have just finished Little Bee.. I want to watch the movie of Little Bee.. It will be really greate!
I usually give a book 50 pages to grab my attention. Little Bee had me hooked from the first sentence. I finished it in one day. I loved the way it unfolded in layers, answering all of my questions.
My book club will discuss Little Bee next month. Is there a message you would like to send to them? Is there one point that we shouldn’t miss?
I was in the airport yesterday and was looking for a book to read that was NOT crime driven/suspense ( Grisham,Patterson, etc) and how lucky I was to find your book in the middle of all these crime dramas!
what a fantastic read- finished it in 1 night.
I was sure this had to be made into a movie- BUT after checking google I have found its not! When will this movie come out?
thanks for a enjoyable book (although a little sad).
Started reading Little Bee yesterday and was consumed! Just finished reading it this morning. It was an incredible book and I, too, feel that I have found my new favorite author. Am anxious to pick up Incendiary and Gold. Is there any word on Little Bee the movie yet – what a challenge that would be!
If I ravish Incendiary and Gold as I quickly as I did Little Bee I will be lost so, please, stop reading this and get busy!!
I read Little Bee in 2007 after it was given to me by a 70 year old white lady in my scrabble club (I am a Nigerian) in Johannesburg. I thoroughly enjoyed it but somehow felt that the book was “unfinished.” Reading your interview in Writers Digest now, I realize that the “incompleteness” that I felt then was intentional.
I will certainly get your other books because reading your interview, I find you intriguing and genuine, neither fluffy nor shallow. Not another writer “out to make a quick buck.”
I wish you greater success in your subsequent works.
Hi Ike – Thank you – I’m delighted you enjoyed the book and I’m very grateful for your comments. All good wishes to you.
I just finished reading Little Bee and thoroughly was engrossed in it. It is an excellently written book. I have ordered all of your other books becasue I am convinced you are my favorite writer.
Dear Mr. Cleave:
I just finished reading Little Bee. I absolutely loved the book. I kept seeing the book around, heard about it on NPR radio in Oklahoma and just kept having this yearning to read the book and now I am so grateful I did. This book had sp much substance and although you say it was fictional it still had some truth (i.e. the genocides of Rwanda). I don’t want to take up too much space but I just wanted to sat Kudos and please give us a part 2 so we can know the outcome of Little Bee, Sarah and Batman (cutest character EVER).
Just finished Little Bee. My wife’s friend recommended it to her so she bought it and she was just too slow to start it. I grabbed it and was engrossed. The character development was so very personal. The beach, village, jungle, house and yard settings were so visual. Great job. I have already recommended the book to several people. Incendiary next!
Hi chris cleave.
I live in turkey.
I finished reading your book now, little bee. and really liked it. I do not regret to have read this book. and I want to read other books. I’m glad to know. I wish you continued success…
ı have read little bee recently.thank you so much for this success.Because understanding people is very important issue.especially knowing a refugee’s life teach us a lot thing about life and about sacrifice.we can again understand that in this book everyone has good sides by their bad sides.if we solve everyone’s goood sides ı hope that world will be wonderful.congratulations to you…
Dear Chris Cleave, please help me to understand- I am not sure I read the end correctly. Does Little Bee die (is that inferred by your ending) or will she live on under Sarah’s protection? You seemed to imply that “globalization” was her subsuming her life into Batman’s life and the soldiers on the beach were ready to kill or at least take Little bee away. But surely that is not really the end, it’s so tragic- or did you want it that way because it is “more honest”? I just finished your book two hours ago after reading it pretty much straight and can’t stop thinking about it!
PS I understand you wouldn’t want to put this comment on the website since it could be seen as a “spoiler” even if I’m embarrassed to say I don’t actually know what happened in the end myself!
Dear Chris Cleave, Thank you so much for Little Bee. I just finished reading your wonderful book. I love learning about the world, but I don’t read newspapers because there is so much in the world that is awful and sad, and I don’t want to be constantly depressed. I am still crying because your book is so sad and tragic and hopeful and compassionate all at the same time. The violence is terrible, but you offer hope and compassion from and to and for each of your characters. And you have a son who was perhaps your inspiration for Batman. How magical is that! You have added immeasurably to my life and what I am able to face in the world. I am running to buy your other books. Thanks again and please keep on writing. Best regards to you and your family.
I have to say that even though i just started to read your book “little Bee” I can tell that by just reading the first two chapters that it is going to be a very intresting novel. You see, I have to read this book as for a school assignment but im glad that my teacher gave me this novel, it’s so good, the novel, that even though I know I have to give it back to the school I have gone out to buy myself my own copy. And also I also haven’t read anything about when a movie is being made.??
Hi Chris, I’ve just returned from visiting a young Nigeria man who is in detention in London after he was accused of witchcraft and trafficked to London to act as a drugs mule. Visiting him in hospital with his three “Reliance” security guards made me think of you and your writing. His story is truly terrible and highlights a complete failure of the state to uphold his rights. We are currently looking to work with some media contacts to highlight the plight of people accused of witchcraft and trafficked. The campaign would be seriously bolstered by your support. Please let me know if you would consider this. We would be very grateful for any support. Best wishes, Gary Foxcroft – co-founder and director, Stepping Stones Nigeria
p.s. I have spent many an hour on Ibeno beach so really did empathise with that part of the other hand!
Dear Mr. Cleave-
I’m writing to you from the state of North Carolina, where I live and work, and where an amendment that hurts many families in NC was just passed. I just finished reading “little bee” in preparation for my book club discussion next week and your ending image of Charlie running on the beach with the Nigerian children resonated with me in a way that was hopeful of a different future ahead for my 3 year old daughter. Off to sign a petition to repeal ammendment one and then order your first book… Thank you for introducing me to little bee. Eager to read more of your work.
Hi Christina – thank you for your comment. I’ve been following the progress of the NC amendment. Good on you for signing the petition to repeal it. Here in the UK there is a similar ongoing struggle to get equal marriage rights for gay people. It’s horrible how much resistance there still is. I think you’re right that there can be a better future for our children’s generation. It’s an area that I think I’m going to write about at some point.
I am reading Little Bee, a fantastic book! I read that a movie is being made. Is it out yet? I was disappointed that I could not find mention of it anywhere.
Hi Suzanne – I’m glad you liked the book – thank you. Yes, there is a movie being made – it’s in development at the moment. I will post news of it on this site as soon as it comes in.
I’ve read both Little Bee and Incendiary, and I enjoyed both texts immensely. I’m very excited to see a new book on the way! Little Bee is such a rich text that I’m currently writing a paper about it for a graduate seminar final (I’m working on getting my master’s in English, and I’m particularly interested in post-colonial literature and theory). In part of this paper, I discuss reviews of the text to illustrate how an average readership has been responding to the very deep issues that you take up in the novel. I’ve come across many responses from both the UK and the U.S., but I am wondering if you have a Nigerian readership as well and would love to know if you’re familiar with how Nigerians may have responded to your book. If you have the time to get back to me concerning this, I would really appreciate it.
Again, I think you’ve done great work with your novels, and I’m looking forward to Gold!
I heard there will be a movie coming out on Little Bee and I was wondering if you are going to change the ending or not? Also what do you think would be the challenges in making the movie, such as having two narrators, having to go back and forth to the past and present and as well as the places you are going to film at?
Hi Suzy, yes, there will be a film of Little Bee. I don’t have a say in what they do with the ending, although I think if they’re good they won’t need to change it. You’re quite right that the dual narrative and the novel’s somewhat cavalier attitude to time are difficult things to translate into film. I’m delighted that isn’t my job! I’m quite illogical and impulsive when it comes to writing. My strength as a writer is probably a willingness to research my characters more deeply than others might, and then to focus very hard on creating their characters on the page. For me, the plot and the structure are secondary to that, but in film they have to be primary. Novels and films are as different from each other as octopi and aircraft.
Hello. I was just wondering when you wrote Little Bee what age group were you intending would read it?
Hi Robin – thanks for your question. I never have an audience or an age group in mind when I write. I try to tell stories in the most engaging and direct way I can, as if I was speaking them aloud to a group of people who might get bored & wander off if I lost concentration and let the narrative become dull. I’m quite surprised about how diverse the readers of my books turn out to be. I’ve had messages from people in their nineties, and from people in their early teens. I don’t think my work is suitable for very young people due to the occasional profanity and violence. I wouldn’t be happy for my own children to read my stuff until they were well into secondary school age.
I have just finished reading Little Bee and I loved it. When I was reading the book, I read it has if I were watching a movie and said to myself that Chris should make this into a movie. I was very glad to hear that there will be a movie made from the book. Good luck and make the viewers proud. I know that this will be a great movie. Is there going to be a part two of Little Bee?
Hi Hope, thank you for your kind words – I’m looking forward to the movie too. I’m not sure if I will write a sequel to Little Bee. On the one hand, I would enjoy exploring how Little Bee’s relationship with Sarah changed as both women grew older. On the other hand, I am changing as a writer and there are themes I get excited about now that would not have interested me three or four years ago. I think that novelists revisit old characters at their peril – there’s a fine line between renaissance and regression.
Dear, dear Chris, I was in London November 2008. staying at the Kensington Close Hotel. Your novel alerted me to immigration conditions and issues in the UK which reminded me of a true immigration narrative that Haitian writer wrote about her uncle’s death caused by the inhumanity in a Miami, Florida detention center right here in our “united states.” I was reminded of this once I read your novel whose haunting theme of the masks we wear just like Charlie! I am also reminded of the “detention center for immigrants” I recently visited in Israel– I call them the holding pens” for newly arrived Ethiopian Jews. I was able to ask a question of a so-called well known black African American expatriate while I observed a lesson. The Ethiopian teacher claimed he did not know who I was talking about. (I got the feeling he was too scared to tell me he had heard of Ben Ammi Ben Israel” I will be right there when the movie comes out.
I love your feminine voice–Carl Gustav Jung would have loved it too, showing the power of individuation!’
I think “Little Bee” also had a lot of “The Secret Life of Bees” in her (metaphorically that is)
You are my new favorite author! I found you from seeing the movie, on Netflix, Incendiary, which was “superb”!!!!! then I saw in credit that it was from a book, so off I went immediately to my library(online first) and saw both your books and requested both, I absolutely loved Incendiary, could not put it down, even after watching movie, it was just great, loved all the characters, and the writing, now I have just finished Little Bee, what can I say, another great read, I am still in awe, thank you for giving me such reading pleasure, can’t wait for another. Keep up the great work! My best to you and your family
Hi Irene – thank you very much – I’m delighted you liked the books! I have a new one out in a few weeks’ time, called ‘Gold’, which i hope you will enjoy too. Best to you and yours also!
Dear Mr. Cleave,
Four days ago I purchased “Little Bee” at the airport while enroute to a vacation. Thank you for both a work of art and also for opening my eyes. I can’t stop thinking about it and wanted to let you know it has made me desperate to make a difference! As a mother of two children, I struggle with the responsibility of how I can teach them how important it is to not only do well in school, but also to “do good” in life. Little Bee will be a wonderful tool someday when they are old enough to appreciate it. I am saving this book for them and will give it to them when they go on a holiday some day. Thank you for your talent as a writer and for teaching me about a subject I would have otherwise known nothing about.
Hi Carol Ann, thank you for your very kind comment. I’m glad you found the book useful. I also struggle, as a parent, to strike the right balance for our children. When it comes to teaching them humanitarian values, my problem is that I’m not great at practicing what I preach. Which is a problem, as I think children respond best to leadership by example. It’s one thing to write a book in support of a better world; it’s much better to ‘be the change you wish to see in the world’, as Gandhi put it. To be a good parent, as I’m sure from your note that you are, is the most important work anyone can do.
It is rare that a book moves you and changes the way you think and view life- that is what Little Bee has done for me. My favorite book- ever! (I love historical fiction.) I have recommended it over and over…and will keep on recommending it. Little Bee’s character is so unlike my rural Kentucky upbringing, but I fell in love with her heart. And it changed mine. Thank you for writing such an inspiring book. Can’t wait to read more…
Chris, I am astonished with Liitle Bee…It has been the best book that I`ve read…oh my…Congatulations.
We really have no idea do we in the western world? Gosh what an empotional journey The Other Hand take you on. I don’t think I have been so moved by a character in a book, Little Bee is so full of sorrow, fear of the horrors she has seen yet joyful, kind & clever. You are an insightful man Mr Cleave, you have captured the very best and worst of all of us. Thank you.
OMG! TODAY I finished Little Bee and what to say But It is freakin amazing! I used to read it in the morning while riding the bus to school , in the afternoon and before i slept under the Lamp! There are moments when I felt shocked, Happy, pleased, scared and sad!
Cheers to Batman xx
I just finished reading Little Bee and I need only one word to describe it:Marvellous!!.
This is the best book I have read in a long time. I might be fiction but it is closer to reality then most people would think.
I am looking forward to read another book from you!
Thank you so much for replying – I really appreciate it. Looking forward to reading your next book
My best regards,
OMG I LOVE “LITTLE BEE” one of the top Best books I’ve read..Thank you Mr, Cleave. You are a Genius 🙂 much Love and respect to you.
We will be discussing your book on Tuesday, April 3rd on our radio book group. (We broadcast for blind and vision-impaired listeners.) I would love to be able to tell our listeners whether you know if your book “Little Bee” has changed, in any way, conditions for refugees in detention centers ofrat least caused people to discuss this issue. I know we are going to have a great discussion and we think your book is beautifully written. Thank you for writing about an issue of such great importance, not just in Britain, but in many other countries around the world.
My best regards,
P.S. Apologies for posting this questions twice, as I saw one can post questions to you on another web site via video – just eager to get an answer for Tuesday if possible.
Hi Valerie – many thanks for discussing the book on your program. I don’t think my novel has changed anything for refugees in the UK or elsewhere – it’s probably pressure on specific issues from serious journalists such as Caroline Moorehead and Paul Lewis that embarrasses government into correcting the worst inhumanities of the detention and deportation system. I do think a novel can get people interested in an issue, though, and help them to see it from a human angle rather than an ideological one. I think that’s a good thing to have in the mix when people are forming their opinions. And I do know that “Little Bee” has got a lot of people talking about asylum and detention issues. Whether people make the transition from talking to militating for change is up to them. I’m always pleased when they do.
Thank you for the gift of Little Bee. Having lived in (East) Africa, Europe and the United States, you have created authentic characters and perspectives. The book was moving and you made it easy for the reader to feel compassion and move back and forth between the characters. I’ll be thinking about your moving story for some time.
All the best,
Hello Chris! I loved your book and I wonder if you could tell me a little bit about the background of Yevette, as I am writing an article on translations of speech paterns and linguistic registers. Thank you so much.
Hello Cristina, the character of Yevette is a refugee from Jamaica, and her life experience is based on testimonies that I read while researching the refugee experience. It’s relatively unusual for someone from Jamaica to arrive in the UK as an asylum seeker, but it does happen. In terms of how I represented her speech in the text, I didn’t have any formal system for doing it. I just listened to a lot of Jamaican English – here where I live in London and also via internet radio from Kingston Jamaica – and I tried to reproduce it on the page. It was quite difficult to know how to do that. Jamaican English is different from other Englishes in that it has signature pronunciation, distinct idioms, additional vocabulary and distinctive syntax – however, it isn’t a separate language, like French, that one might represent on the page in italics. I had the same issues when representing Nigerian English, and in my first novel ‘Incendiary’ representing an East End register of British English. I just try to listen hard and represent what I hear as best I can on the page. Hope that helps, and good luck with your article.
I just finished reading Little Bee for a book discussion group at the library. The characters are so real and it was difficult to put it down. There are many issues to ponder. Thank you for writing such a memorable book.
Thank you Judith – delighted you liked it.
Acabo de ler o livro, realmente fascinante! fiquei encantada com a história! obrigada e sucesso !!
I have read your book and really enjoyed it. One of my friends recommended it to me, I usually pick my own books, but that time i took her advise and it didn’t disappoint me. I am looking forward to reading “Gold”.
I just read your book in my Lit&Comp class. I absolutely loved it. Thank you for writing!! I am glad I didn’t pick a different book. Can’t wait to read more!!!
Hi Hannah – thanks very much! Delighted you liked it. I’ve a new one coming out in July called ‘Gold’ – hope you’ll enjoy that too.
I was wondering how I could learn more about you book. I’m writing a paper that compares Little Bee to the movie The Secret Life of Bee’s and need some information on how the people reacted to Little Bee while she was staying with Mrs. O’Rourke.
Hi Preston, thanks for your enquiry. I’m not sure exactly what information you need but if you can let me know, I’ll try to help.
Dear Mr. Cleave,
I just emerged from the world of Little Bee and Charlie and Sarah. Somehow a chunk of my heart remains on the shoreline, lingering in the heartbreak and hope that your novel stirred inside me. It seems simplistic to say that you are a talented writer with and eye for nuances of the despair that consumes us and the ties that bind, but hopefully you will understand. My own son Isaiah spent ages three and four living in a Batman costume, answering the phone, “This is Batman…” and to tell you the truth, I think that one reason I connected with your story so completely was that you captured and recorded a very tender piece of my own family’s history. I look forward to reading your other novels, so please keep writing!
Georgia, United States
Hi Jennifer, what a kind message – thank you. Your son sounds very like mine when he was in his Batman phase! All good wishes to him & to you – Chris
Dear Mr. Cleave,
I was really touched by your story, and I appreciate the creation of Little Bee. I truly admire your ability to unfold such a complex, universal story. Little Bee most definitely enhanced my appreciation and understanding of the simultaneous beauty and tragedy of being human. Thank you for writing it.
– a Wisconsinite from the states.
I’m writing a paper on your book Little Bee and I was wondering, did the husband deal with manic depression?
Hi Preston, good luck with your paper. The Andrew character probably did suffer with some post-traumatic issues, and with depressive illness. If you’re interested in the condition, there is some very good information at Mind UK.
I can’t remember specifically when I read this heart breaking book but I do know it was on the new release shelf and have passed it on to friends. This morning when I awoke to my cell buzzing about Joseph Kony and read the controversial messages back and forth about this issue, I again thought of your book. It’s hard to live in the Land of the Free and the Brave and understand how another country can be so horrific. I can’t help but compare Little Bee to what the documentary of Kony 2012 has to show and not be over-whelmed with compassion.
I just finished reading “Little Bee”, and am trying to think how I can express in words how much I think of it, and thank you. As a artist, I realized that you have done what I hope to do in art: establish a dialogue with the viewer, so that a rhythm is set up between him/her and the content and feelings I expose…that what can be gained is what is really between the lines to be discovered. The structure, the wording, the relationship of a novel to “real” life all work towards that goal. (I hope this is understandable!)–
I am left feeling both sad (even horrified) but also uplifted. I thought of my grandparents whom I did not know: refugees from pogroms of Russia, the hard times they had in American, of the many refugees (a few of whom I know) flowing into Israel (where I now live) every day–of those we almost don’t see in the back of restaurants, cleaning hotel rooms…and those dying on the way, trying to leave the unlivable.
A question: I wrote about the book to a Nigerian e-friend. She teaches at a university, is very fluent in English, but had never heard of it. (I’m sending her my book.)–What is the situation there with your book? Do you know of any impact it has made there?
Thank you. Elinore
I just finished reading ‘the other hand’ and am still standing beside the Little Bee… and I absolutely refuse to let go of her hand and won’t let the soldiers take her… I know this is unreal, but I am disappointed that you let them take her after what happened to her sister…
You tell a good story, you just make it too real to be taken as just a good story. I don’t know whether to thank you for enlightening me about things that can happen in certain parts of our world or to regret reading this book… coz Nkiruka and Little Bee will never go out of my head now.
Keep hope alive in the other books, will you?
Loved the Little Bee and her lovely way of expressing herself, not the end though.
Hi little Bee,
really cute, it is my favorite Book
What really got to me in your book are the examples of things that we in the “so called superior Western world” have accepted as normal but through Little Bee’s fresh view are rather twisted really. When Little Bee is talking to the girls back home of what she experiences in our world – mostly very funny examples, but when you think it through, pretty sad at the same time. (sad as in how did we get here)
“Then it is not shameful in Great Britain, to show your bobbis in the newspaper”.
Well done, very captivating from start to finish. I can’t help hoping all ended well for Little Bee, such a strong character. As well as Sarah, I like to believe she and Charlie made it back to the UK, she put up a fight over getting Little Bee back to the UK, her book got published and she won and got Little Bee to join them as Charlie’s caretaker/babysit whilst studying to become a someone in the UK who can make a difference for refugees….
I am looking forward to getting hold of Gold in July and any other books by you in the future.
Best wishes from Holland – Rina
(I recommended reading your book in our bookclub, and will prepare and present The Other Hand (little bee for the Dutch) this coming Tuesday, I hope your book went under their skin too).
I read your novel “Little Bee” and completely fell in love with it. I was actually traveling, and while walking in the duty free (in Lebanon), I met a salesman in Virgin megastore that recommended it to me.
You have no idea how many of my friends want to borrow the book, from how much I’ve been talking about it!
I’m also extremely glad it’s being turned into a movie! Because, I’m actually a communication arts student and as I read, I imagined how it would look like on screen 😀
Congratulations on a fantastic work of art, I can’t wait to buy your other books!
Loved it, loved it, loved it!
Thanks Chris, I don’t know what my wife missed because she couldn’t get through the first chapter ? I am halfway through Little Bee and am totally into it. Good Stuff !
Dear Chris Cleave
just finished Little Bee and liked it a lot – especially its humor and tenderness in the face of tragedy.It was never moralistic but showed how the characters felt and what motivated them instead. I wish I could tell a story the way you do.
Just finished reading Little Bee!!!! I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT!!!! Chris, the novel was wonderful, couldnt put it down. Recommending to all my friends and colleagues!
Hi Ahlishia – thank you for your kind words, and for recommending the novel to your friends! If you liked ‘Little Bee’ I hope you might like my new novel, ‘Gold’, which is out in July. All good wishes – Chris
The horrific deeds and heroic actions of the books’ many characters have made real, for me, the hurdles, perils, fears, and even tortures that refugees and prisoners have endured … wow, keep up the good work
– in a poetic language you find your path in the crooked landscape of the mind and strike the very heart.
Thank you for the touching story of Little Bee,
a danish reader made wondering
Hello Ida – thank you very much for your kind words.
Hi Mr Cleave,
I had submitted a short but sincere comment about your novel before, but I see it does not take place in the website.
Is there a specific reason for choosing the comments to be posted, if not Have I posted stg. wrong?
I would be happy to see my comment as well as the others’.
I finished your book by the way.
Hi Umit, I’m sorry your comment didn’t get published. I publish all comments that are in English and not too crazy, so I expect it was just a technical error that meant I didn’t see yours. Please can you resend the comment? Thanks & sorry about that.
I will never be able to fill my car tank with gasoline without being reminded of “Little Bee.” The horrific deeds and heroic actions of the books’ many characters have made real, for me, the hurdles, perils, fears, and even tortures that refugees and prisoners have endured. Greed (corporate and individual) is the often the root of evil. We consumers have a role in this.
Parabéns pelo talento!!! “Pequena Abelha”, realmente, é um livro sensacional!!!
I just finished reading Little Bee, and I loved the book. I now have my daughter reading it for a book report for school. I am getting ready to go and buy Incendiary. I can’t wait to read it.
Thank you once again. That answer was really insightful and helpful. Best of luck to you
I heard there was a movie or was going to be one based on Little Bee, is this true? I just finished the book, great book! Thanks 🙂
Hi Amber – thanks for reading the book – glad you liked it! Yes there is a movie being made for Little Bee, although it isn’t happening very fast. I’ll post an update on this website and on Twitter @chriscleave, as soon as I know more about the film.
sorry for my unclear question.
in this novel public identity was a major theme, atleast to my understanding.
and what I was wondering was how did the internal problems Little Bee, Sarah, and Charlie have reflect their public identity, if it did at all?
and how did you show this theme through your novel?
I’m writting a paper on your novel about public identity that the characters have so I just wanted to get your perspective on public identity used in your novel
thank you for your time, I really appreciate it
Hi Tony, that’s a good question. In a way the novel is all about identity: that which we are born with and that which we choose to assume.
For example, when Little Bee comes to the UK she adopts a completely new persona, changing everything from her name to her clothes to her way of speaking the “Queen’s English”. She realises that the choice she makes when she assumes a “public identity”, as you put it, will determine her degree of safety. As she changes her public identity, there are also changes in her private image of herself. For example, she is aware of an increasing gulf between her experience of the world, and the experience of those she might have grown up with. (This is evidenced by the way in which she uses the device of explaining her new life to “the girls back home”).
Sarah is also a character who is obsessed by her public image and her public identity, and is very aware of the impression she makes on others. For example, she talks about how she would dress for a publication day versus an ordinary work day, or she thinks about the exact message she sends with the clothes she wears to her husband’s funeral. Beneath this superficial layer of self-presentation, however, there is a deep conflict going on between her original self-image as a campaigning journalist and her professional identity as a successful editor of trivium. It is the (re)emergence of Little Bee in her life that forces her to address this conflict in her identity.
If you’re writing a paper on this, then a nice way to start or end it might be to look at the character of Charlie. He is overtly and self-consciously manipulating his identity when he adopts the persona of Batman (who is himself a study in dual identity). Children play with identities very naturally, and I would argue that we never grow out of it – it’s just that the identity games we play are less overt than actually putting on a cape and mask.
I hope this answer helps, and that your paper goes well! Thank you for your interest in my novel.
Hi Chris – I just now finished Little Bee. It was my Thanksgiving read and I finished in a few days which is unusual for me! Wonderful book although I laid awake a bit with some of the horrible images…. What I want to know is what happens to Little Bee??
Hi Marty – thanks for reading Little Bee & for your kind words. I like to think that Little Bee would have been okay in the end – that she would have talked herself into being released after a period of imprisonment. But I wanted to leave the other possibility open too. Unfortunately a lot of refugee stories end sadly, and I didn’t want to wave a literary magic wand and make everything okay at the end: I felt that to do that in fiction would be to disrespect the plight of refugees in the real world.
I just finished reading your novel and it was amazing.
would you explain to me how public identy was a factor for Little Bee and Charlie?
Hi Tony – thanks for reading the book & for your kind comment. I’m happy to answer your question but I don’t completely understand it. Please could you expand?
A scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived.
Thank you Mister Cleave, you’re book might have changed the way i go about my life.
I’ve laughed, cried, felt really sick and at the same time moved in a way I never experienced by a book. Most of all, I can tell you that I’ve never encountered such strong characters like Sarah and Little Bee, so convincing and real that it’s hard to believe they don’t exist in that very same way.
I can’t wait to read your other books and wish you all the best for future novels, keep up the amazing work!
Thank you Giulia – what a nice message for me to read on a cold Monday morning.
Hi Chris. I just finished reading Little Bee which was our book club’s December selection. Your craft in telling the story was very well done. I am always amazed when a male writing captures a female voice so well. Yet your story is with 2 independent females of diverse backgrounds, lives and experiences. The people in our book-club are elementary school teachers, who enjoy learning the writing process of the author to share with our students. How did you come upon the idea of two female narrators? How did they lead you to tell their story? Was the ending planned as you began or did it unfold as the character’s lives intertwined? Maureen
Hello Maureen – many thanks to you & your book club for reading Little Bee. In answer to your question: I’ve written about the choice of narrators and the challenges in writing them, and also about planning the book’s ending – in a Q&A here. I now see that the drop-down menu to the Q&A on this website is not working, so I’m not surprised you didn’t find it! Sorry about that – I will fix it ASAP.
On the last night of our honeymoon, my new husband and I found oursleves reading in bed together; I was reading Little Bee, and my husband, the new Steve Jobs biography…I can not stop thinking about the novel, about Little Bee and Sarah, Andrew and Charlie. Some parts of the book were extremely difficult to get through (my family has been affected by suicide), but I still could not put it down. I am going to recommend the book to family, even with it’s difficult parts, because it is so powerful. I have never read a piece so moving, so emotionally raw. Never has a book taken me through so many human emotions from start to finish. I look forward to reading future works.
touching, amazing – compliments!
Chris, Little Bee has changed my life. I will be recommending this for our next book in my club. I have seen the movie Incendiary and MUST read the book now. You have broadened my horizons immensely. You did an amazing job of speaking for these characters and making us a part of their stories. Thank you. Tricia
I have just re-read Little Bee for the third time, as I am moderator for my book club this Wednesday. I still got something more out of it the third time partially reading it my husband’s hospital room. I love the majesty of the writing, the expressions, the characters of Little Bee, Sarah and Lawrence. I love your reason for writing on this subject, and I think you would be a person I would very much like to meet and talk to.
I returned from three weeks of work in Abuja, exhausted, discouraged and happy to be home. I had never felt that way before about leaving an African country and it scared me. Several people told me I had to read Little Bee and I have finally done so. What a magnificent book! I was impressed that you were so able to write in the voices of women — no easy feat. And I was just captivated by the story. A wonderfully moving and engrossing tale that compelled me to read the whole book in one day. There are so many examples of injustice and apathy in our increasingly global society, but also stores of incredible compassion. You raised all of these issues so beautifully. I am glad I read the book after I returned from Abuja, but agree with your book that there are empty spaces ready to be filled with hope not only in that city but everywhere. Thank you so much for a great read and so much to think about…
Thank you so much for this book. I really enjoyed the eye-opening story, even more as I myself leave in London and could see some of the places the characters go to. Your writing is very enjoyable too, not being English-speaker I had to look up some of the words, but learned from it and that’s great!
I was required to read Little Bee for an English class. I am a mother of three children under the age of six, I work 2 jobs, and I am a full time college student.
If this was not a required read I honestly would have never read this book. I came to this site to share my love for this book. I plan on reading more books by Mr. Cleave. It is amazing that someone could write a book that literally comes to life. It must sound very cliche but never have I read a book that made me laugh out loud, cry, become so angry, made me gasp, and excited. I could feel the branches brushing my face as they ran through the jungle, I cried when Batman realized his father was dead, I felt fear when Little Bee had to phone the police….. simply every emotion known to mankind came to life in this book. I want to thank Mr. Cleave one Zillion times for writing Little Bee. I can not wait to read more work!!!
What a gift this novel was. I am left with intense feelings, heightened awareness and an appreciation for you as a writer. Thank you.
I really enjoyed reading this 😉
Hi Chris, I started reading your book this morning and by p.20 I just knew it was going to be one of those ‘read-it-in-one-go’ books. I was in love with Little Bee, the main character right from the start. (At midday my husband came home and although I hadn’t seen him for a week, I begged him to let me read the final four pages before we talked!) Little Bee was the best book I’ve read in a long long time and I’m still mulling over it as we speak…
I only have one doubt: it didn’t seem very logical to me what happened on the beach all those years ago… surely the men would have attacked Little Bee’s sister, with or without Sarah’s intervention?? and wouldn’t the guys have raped the sister right there on the beach, instead of taking her away? If they had let Little Bee go, why would she still be with her sister later? Unfortunately, I slightly lost my ‘suspense of disbelief’ at that point, so I’d be really grateful if you could explain it. Many thanks and keep writing wonderful books that not only entertain, but also have a powerful underlying message.
I took the book in my hand on Saturday morning at 9 am … and I put it down 3 pm. I read the hole book just like that. I laughed and I cried. Thank you. the book really touched. wordless *sigh*
I read Little Bee a year or so ago, and loved it, so then I read Incendiary and loved that even more. And then I saw another title was available, The Other Hand, so I ordered a copy through an inter-library loan, and was surprised to find that it’s Little Bee under a different title! Oh well…. never mind, I loved Little Bee the first time, and I know I’ll enjoy reading it even more the second time, never mind what the title is!
Thank you for your writing, you have given me many hours of reading pleasure. Fenella in Canada.
I am a member of Lake Naomi Pa. book club. The book was so thought provoking and will soon lead us in a lively discussion. The ambiguity of the ending is a soul searching experience in this time of global concern and world citizenship. How far did your hopes and concerns play out in the final scene? Was this originally planned or did it evolve as you experienced the writing process? I would really appreciate a response?
Thank you . Pat Mosunic
I had the pleasure of reading Little Bee, which i loved, over the summer. I also had the chance to listen to your amazing speech at the convocation at Pace University on September 6th and i wanted to thank you again for meeting with me afterwords, signing my book and giving me the chance to chat with you a little after. I am currently starting your other book, Incendiary, and loving it. Your one of my new found favorite authors, keep up the amazing work and i hope ill be able to see you speak again in the future.
My name is Shaunise. I havent read a book for my own personal reading in about 6 years. I recently started a job that does not allow you to use cell phones while on the clock. I saw other co-workers reading books and magazines. I went to my school bookstore and saw the book Little Bee. Honestly I picked the book because of the cover and my 2 yr old son, we call him Lil B. I must say to get back into reading books, I couldnt have asked for a better choice. This book had me on the edge of my seat. I laughed, I was sad, I cried (When they took Little Bee away). Ive never felt those emotions from reading a book. I fell inlove with little bee and I felt like I knew her just as Sarah and Charlie. I absolutley love this story and I await the feature film. Mr. Chris Cleave, you are amazingly talented and awesome. I will be purchasing Incendiary tomorrow. I can go on and on but I would rather spread the word to all my reader friends to read this book. You have open my mind to read read and just read and I thank you for that. YOU ROCK!
“Little Bee” had been recommended to me by 3 different people on many separate occasions and a few months ago I finally bought it. At the time, however, I was in the midst of reading the Letters of Virginia Woolf (only got through Vol. II–yikes!), and I kept “Bee” on my shelf for much longer than I should have. I opened your shining novel about a week ago and finished it 3 days later while riding the train to work. I was sitting in the middle of a bunch of foul-mouthed, boisterous teenagers–who, in any other situation would have been horribly distracting–but I was so engulfed in your gorgeous story-telling that I just sat there, weeping (with joy and with sadness). And everything was silent. Everything was wonderful. I didn’t hear or see anything but Little Bee and Charlie on the beach together, laughing.
“Little Bee” is the one of the most staggeringly beautiful books I have ever read; the voices, thoughts, and hearts of your characters are so incredibly moving. “Bee” is refreshingly well-written and the characters are so fully realized that I felt like I was walking down the beach or through the London streets with Bee. I could see myself under the boat with her. I could feel Batman’s little hand in my hand.
THANK YOU for writing this book. Please keep writing, and I will definitely keep reading.
Boston, MA (USA)
Hello Mr. Cleave, i hope you are well. I am a college student and as part of an assignment i’m to view a video clip of you from you tube and read the first chaoter of you book. I thought i might first read some the comments. I did just that and then i read the first line of the frist chapter and stopped. As a man with some life experience ( i’m 56) i’ve come to have what i think is a health skepticism when reading material that has a specific gender outlook or voice rather than an inclusive human voice. The understanding of the nuances of this particuar voice is further complicated still by the racial dynamic. One can see how this plays in how the violence is percieved by your audience in the response by Toni Collins who describes the violence as, ” the rawness of African violence”)
Hello Mr Macedon. Thank you for reading the first line of my novel. I read the whole of your comment.
I have been given this book but traslated it into german. I have no so much patiente to read books , but the story looked interesting. What a pity .I do not know
if there is a traslation into spanish. My mum likes so much reading books and she’d be interesting in this story.
Hi Joana, thanks for your message and for wanting to read the novel – yes, it is available in Spanish. It is published in Spain by Maeva and you should hopefully be able to find it online or have your local bookstore order it for you. If you have trouble finding a copy, please let me know through this website. Best wishes, Chris.
Little Bee has stolen my heart and I can’t stop thinking about her. Your book has re-ignited that part of me that so desperately wants to see evidence of a major shift in our ability to see ourselves in each other. You were able to present these women in ways that spoke to parts of me that haven’t been touched in a while…..maybe that is happening to other readers and one by one the shift is influenced. I don’t usually write, so am finding it difficult to put my feelings into words, but so wanted you to know how much this book moved me and that I see it as a very special piece of the web we are all weaving to create a more peaceful world.
Mr. Cleave: I just finished reading Little Bee and have been thinking quite a bit about the story. In the real world of the UK and the US, would Little Bee actually have been deported? Seems like her story is our rationale for asylum. Could the book have left Little Bee in the UK and ended with the same scene on the beach? I have visions of ICE and Homeland Security in the US operating much as the soldiers in your book. I agree that taking Charlie to Africa was reckless. Thank you for this absorbing read and for reminding me of the power of stories.
Hi, Mr. Cleave,
My name is Andrew Miller, and I attend The College of New Jersey (TCNJ). I started a book club there, and our first book is Little Bee. We would be honored if you could come to the campus to discuss the novel with us. I have never had the chance to meet an author, and discuss his intentions, and I think that your coming would really benefit the members of the book club. Little Bee is my favorite novel. We would love to have the opportunity to talk to you about it.
Let me know if you’re interested by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you in advance! I appreciate it!
I just finished the Little Bee it was one of the most emotionally moving books i have ever read, this is something im going to recommend to everyone, but I did have some questions
1. What was your inspiration for the cover art, I know this shares a common theme with one of youre other books and i thought it was interesting, it really grabs the eye, I saw that it shared a common theme with Incendiary and wanted to know if there was a reason for that.
2. When Sarah and Little Bee were collecting stories why didnt you put in some of the stories?
3. Regarding Lawrence how come you didnt put in his feelings about Sarah going to africa?
Keep writing, I cant wait to read Incendiary
Little Bee is my book club’s selection for this month. One of our members convinced us that it was an excellent read and she was so right! The characters were amazingly depicted. The two women were so complex – vulnerable yet strong, passionate yet conflicted. The book club wanted to ask a few questions prior to our meeting next Tuesday:
1. During your writing process, did you always plan to leave the ending open? If so, why? Americans may prefer a happy ending, but I personally like to think of the story continuing into the future in an undetermined direction.
2. Most of our club members are moms, so we struggled with Sarah’s decision to bring her son along to Nigeria. What was her motivation to do this? Did she not want to desert him? Was she blinded by her desire to help Little Bee at whatever cost to her family?
3. How was Sarah able to reconcile her feelings so quickly about Little Bee’s presence during her husband’s suicide? Even if she didn’t blame Little Bee for the suicide, there would still be intense emotions surrounding it.
Little Bee is thought-provoking and completely engrossing. The characters seemed so real, so human – full of faults and experiencing dilemmas as they stumble through life. I look forward to reading your other novels.
Dear Cathy, many thanks to you and your book club for reading Little Bee. I hope your discussion will be fun! In answer to your questions:
(1) I didn’t know how I would end it until I started writing the final section. I decided finally to give it an ambiguous ending because I realised that the book was asking a question (Did Sarah do enough for Little Bee?) and by extension asking a question of us all (Do we do enough for those less fortunate than ourselves?) rather than answering that question.
(2) I tend to agree with you regarding Sarah’s decision to return to Nigeria with Charlie. If I had a chance to revise the book, that’s the part I would work on. I think it’s important for the story to end where it began, in Africa, and I don’t think that Sarah could realistically leave Charlie behind, but I would like to see Sarah provide an additional level of security for him on their trip. I think she should acknowledge to herself that the situation is potentially dangerous, and perhaps hire a guard to go around with them – or some similar security arrangement. That arrangement could still go awry, of course, and allow the identical final scene on the beach, but the set-up would be more realistic in terms of Sarah’s responsibilities and concerns as a mother. I’m pretty furious at myself for not getting that bit right, actually – it would only be the work of a paragraph, and it would remedy what I think is the book’s one serious divergence from realism.
(3) I’m less worried about the book’s portrayal of Sarah’s feelings after Andrew’s suicide – I still think her mental process is quite realistic. I have done a lot of research on post-traumatic states, and I think Sarah exemplifies that strange hinterland which is completely “with it” and pragmatic one moment, and utterly deluded the next. I think it will take her a long time to come to terms with what’s happened to Andrew – at first she feels nothing at all, and then she goes into a kind of denial, and then she forces herself to go back into her memory and remind herself where it all went wrong. I think her attachment to Little Bee is actually the beginning of a grieving process for Andrew – a process which is still far form complete at the close of the novel.
I hope those responses will be useful during your club’s discussions. Thank you for thinking so carefully about the novel. As a writer, that means a great deal to me.
I am reading your book for a second time. As a Brit living in the USA, I can honestly say I am reading this book through a British person’s eyes as well as American.Would you explain to me why some words that Bee uses are are in italics.
Hello Ann – re your question about italics: I use them for a variety of effects, and often to indicate a shift in register rather than to imply emphasis. For example I might have one of my characters think to themselves: “My husband was the kind of guy people called a quiet hero” – with the italics signifying that the character recognises the phrase as a journalistic shorthand, rather than a description she might have used herself. In this case I would be using italics to denote a register somewhere between first person monologue and reported speech. In other cases I use italics to delineate reported speech within dialogue, when it would get messy to use nested quotation marks. And in other cases still, I use them simply to indicate the intent of a line in dialogue. For example, “That’s my baby, Angela!” means something rather different from “That’s my baby, Angela!”
I suppose what I’m saying is that italics are a multipurpose vehicle for me, and I’m quite carefree and inconsistent in the ways I deploy them. There aren’t many typographical effects at our disposal as writers – the only others are caps and bold face, I think – so inevitably we abuse their forgiving nature.
Hi Toni – your comments have just absolutely made my morning. Thank you! I’m delighted one of my books was character-building for your offspring. I promise I will write the fill-on humour book one of these days soon. I have another serious novel that I desperately want to write first, and then maybe the funny book will be book #5…
p.s. although I laughed less in the second two thirds of the book, I remained gripped by the drama and characters all the way through. I grew up in South Africa and this is the first book I’ve read that depicts the rawness of African violence, yet didn’t completely strip me apart. A Long Way Gone by Ishmeal Beah reduced me to a puddle of quivering despair for days. Perhaps the knowledge that your story is fiction has cushioned the blow for me, but I suspect the balance provided by the humour and the adorable Batman will allow Little Bee’s story to spread to more of the world than if you had chosen a more brutal way of telling it. May it play a part in alleviating the suffering that goes on there.
I’m a huge fan! Once I finished the book I amused myself by reading your Guardian columns online 🙂 I look forward to following your work and, shallowly, am holding my breath for the full-on-humour book.
I stayed up most of last night reading Little Bee, quite unable to put it down despite knowing I’d be useless in the morning. It was worth it! Besides, I’m sure it was character-building for my kids to make their own school luches while I mumbled incoherently from the couch, then drove them to school in my PJs.
The humour in the book is delicious, I adore your writing style and find myself going back through and chuckling at my favourite bits again this morning. I’m almost sorry that I devoured the book so fast, rather than savouring it. I can’t wait to read Incendiary – maybe I’ll catch a good night’s sleep first.
Thanks, and all the best to you!
I finished the book a couple of weeks ago for my book group. Perhaps I had a different experience of it because I listened to it as an audio book and was not really able to read around the worst parts – the beach scene – as others in my group did. I’m absolutely haunted by it, and not a good way. I found it sort of horrifying. I know it was fiction but it’s not that there aren’t thousands of Little Bees worldwide. I guess I appreciated the unflinching ending but, perhaps it’s because I’m American, I kept hoping that Little Bee wouldn’t be killed violently after a mostly miserable, traumatic life. I’m left feeling rather traumatized actually. I can’t help but wonder what the motivation was for writing it. Was it to give voice to the misery of refugees and the plight of women and children in war-torn countries? Please tell me you had a purpose for writing it.
Lauri – Thank you for your message. I’m very sorry you were upset by the book. It’s certainly not my intention to make anyone feel down, and it does credit to your sensitivity as a person and as a reader that some of the scenes troubled you.
I did have a purpose in writing the book, which was to tell a realistic story about what it’s like at certain times in certain parts of the world. My belief is that literature can help people to focus on some things about the world that need changing.
Having said that, I can see why some people find the novel traumatizing, and it’s a feeling I’ve had too with certain books. After reading Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road’, for example, I felt very depressed and disheartened for a couple of weeks. (Nevertheless, I thought ‘The Road’ was one of the all-time great novels). At least in McCarthy’s books, though, you know that the situation starts bad and is only going to get worse. With Little Bee I think part of the problem is that the book switches between comic and tragic registers, so that it is a bit of a shock when the beach scene arrives. Maybe there should be some kind of warning on the cover. In any case, I’m sincerely sorry that the book disturbed you, and I hope that the feeling will soon fade.
Well Chris, I am blown away by Little Bee. I want to thank you for it. I guess I have been reading so many ARCs and galleys that I have forgotten what great writing is. I can’t wait for the discussion next week when our book club meets. I look forward to your next book. My blog posting is here: http://mimi-cyberlibrarian.blogspot.com/2011/10/little-bee.html
Miriam – thanks so much for your message & your terrific review. I hope your book club will have a great discussion!
I finished reading Little Bee this morning and wanted to tell you what a wonderful book this is. The women characters in this book are so strong and true. I never found myself saying, “A woman wouldn’t say that!” You did a great job of talking for these women. I was only in the beginning of the book when I told my daughter about it and told her she must read it. I will now go out and buy Incendiary and also your new book when it comes out. Thank you for your work.
A fan for life,
Hi Cindy – thank you for your very kind message – that has made my day. I’m so glad you liked the book & I hope you’ll enjoy the new one when it comes out!
Hi Chris – I just finished a book today and was thinking of what to read next so Joanna Kavenna’s “The Birth of Love” it is… Thanks for the recommendation.
I finished reading Little Bee a couple of weeks ago and I have to say it was one of the most difficult books to read that I’ve come across. It was impossible not to cry.
I got this book at a bookcrossing meeting in Bangkok – I think it was meant to find me.
Thank you for writing such a beautiful, emotional and powerful story. It will stay with me for a long, long time.
Hi Delia – thank you. I just looked at your blog, which is great. I see you have a book by Joanna Kavenna on your to-read pile. She is a friend and a brilliant writer – I recommend moving it to the top of the pile 🙂
Please tell me the ending of Little Bee is that she and Sarah leave with batman back to Sarah’s home.
Dear Dana, yes! And no…
Thank you Chris Cleave for Little Bee. This book was passed along to me at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia while my baby was having his second heart surgery. During the nights my son slept your book took my mind off all the stress i was under… I have always been a positive person so i knew that all would be ok…with Little Bee and with my son. Her character seemed at peace at the end of the story giving up her name to Charlie and laughing. Although i did not want to see her caught i saw her amazing strength come full circle. Moving story makes you realize how insignificant some of our problems are in comparason to these real life issues.
Thank you, Sue. I’m so glad the book helped. Hope your son’s surgery went very well – all good wishes for health and happiness to him, and to you.
Beautifully written work of art. I didn’t want to put it down, bought my copy at Midway Airport and finished just in time to pass my copy on to the woman I bought it from (working the register) back at Midway Airport in Chicago after a weekend away. Books this amazing need to be shared, please pass this on…read, turn pages, share, talk, connect. Thank you for writing this.
Thank you, Sarah! I like that you passed the book on. I pass all mine on too – have you seen http://www.bookcrossing.com/ ? I’m a big fan.
The best book I have ever read.Thank you so much for such a great book.
It was like the book was just following me from the shelves of bookshops…I decided to buy and read it since the very first sentences made me curious being so full of meaning. It’s deeply moving and once I finished it I went back to read some parts I had underlined just to make the story never end.
I am reading “Little Bee” rather than my Book Club’s monthly suggestion. I am enthralled by the writing style. It is descriptive without overdoing. The character’s are as clear as if being painted by an artist. The story unfolds at a very natural pace. The book is intelligent but not to the point of high mindedness. I am half way into the book and feel compelled to comment. I appreciate the works of an outstanding writer! I am an American with compassion, so the subject matter tugs at my heart strings. I am also thankful for the use of the character’s accents without making it tedious to read. Thankful for a Great-Great Book!!!
We reviewd Little Bee at our book club today. We unanamously agreed that the ending was very disappointing, all hoping that Little Bee would be safe in the end. We agreed it was a poignant, beautifully written book with a real story to tell. Personally I loved the narration by Little Bee, the innocence, the bravery, the simple but complex outlook on life. It is a mind boggling story that everyone should read! Well done!!
We chose this book for our church book club and will be discussing tomorrow at our monthly book review. Thank you for such a compelling and well written novel. We are all certain to want to know what happened to Little Bee and Sarah & Charlie?? Is there a sequel in the wind? The book has left my wife and I in a quandary, scratching our heads. We can’t wait for tomorrow’s discussion.
I see a life within the ‘Little Bee’. Each and every words I read (gaps were more compelling though) turned into a picture and stuck in my mind. And I want to know what happened to Sarah, Charlie and Little Bee after that.
What a truly amazing book Little Bee is. All too often we become so complacent in our lives we do not realize the true struggles of other people and cultures in the world. Definitely an eye opener. May all who read it find a little more compassion and understanding in their hearts.
I started reading The Other Hand last night and couldn’t put it down. I’ve just finished and felt compelled to say what a completely beautiful book it is. I cried buckets, but laughed out loud, too. It’s the best book I’ve read in such a long time. Thank you.
I love this story. It’s beautiful. However, I was so disappointed by the ending. It was as if you’d gone on vacation and you came to my house, told me all about your vacation then you say, ‘you’ll never believe how I got home. But instead of telling you, I want you to decide how I got home.’ You wrote a whole story. So end it! But otherwise, I loved it enough to continually pass it on to others!
I just finished ” Little Bee” for a monthly book club. I really enjoyed the book, but came out of it with so many questions. I had questions about Nigeria, and the soldiers that walk the beach and destroyed Little Bee’s home, wishing I could do more for the people in Nigeria, that they wouldn’t have to leave. Most touching, when Little Bee started to walk away, and talked to this other man, then looked over, and walked back. And when the little boy was missing. Biggest surprise, when the family showed up on the plane to take Little Bee home. Also when she gave the boy her real name. Hardest to understand, why Sarah took up with a married man, and was the angst from not standing up, being a man, and cutting off his finger, enough for Andrew to hang himself?So much to discuss in the book club. Also, the ending, I didn’t want her to be captured again, that was so sad, and a bit of a full circle. All and all, really great book, and I want to read his other books now.
I read The Other Hand in 2 days, one of my favourite books this year! I enjoyed Little Bee’s character immensely, how the English language was given a whole new appreciation and perspective through Little Bee was an unexpected surprise, her insight, innocence, courage and determination appealed to me on so many levels. A thought provoking read, touching on so many important issues that are real/current, globalisation, development, democracy, freedom, poverty, etc, I could relate to easily. Even the real life dramas of married life and family life made this tale a reassuring read. Thank you for a wonderfully written book, I can’t wait to pass it on.
Wow. I finished this book today. The voices you gave your characters were so real I could hear them speak. Particularly the immigrants. I’m American, and I could still ‘hear’ them all.
I thought this was an Uncle Tom’s Cabin or The Grapes of Wrath in its impact. It broke my heart. I hope it effects real change.
You made so much sorrow plain, but it didn’t feel hopeless. It told a story I did not want to hear, and still made me laugh.
I have been troubled by denied asylum to refugees since I was a teenager — nearly twenty years now. It grieves me. I can see both sides of the issue, but being a Christian impresses me with the culpability of giving the alien, the fatherless and the widow more cause for sorrow. We who are able ought to be a refuge and not a wall.
You kept having the characters make a choice to help or do nothing because of the cost, and it strikes me how many of our policies in this area are that choice over and over again.
I’m afraid to read any more of your books.
It is a captivating and moving story, beautifully written. I couldn´t stop reading it until I finished it. Highly recommended
Thank you so much! This piece was absolutely the most beautiful thing I have read in a long time. The scene where Batman falls into Andrew’s grave sent chills into my soul, whereas his running amongst the Nigerian children made tears come to my eyes. It is not often that a book can so quickly grasp my heart, but this book managed to do so in the opening page. This is a novel I will be talking about for decades, and possibly teaching in my literature classes. Bravo! Keep the novels coming!
hallo, i am finished with reading LITTEL BEE since one week and i am still in littel bee fever. Fantacstic. Thank you 🙂
But really nothing agains Nicole Kidman but please she cannot be aprt of such a brillant book. It have to be a more suitabe person. No hollywood glamout, it have to be a good film ! 🙂
Gostaria de dizer apenas que chorei com seu o Pequena Abelha. Achei emocionante, muito bem escrito e que trata de um tema importante mas, acima de tudo, da complexidade das relações humanas. Quero ler mais coisas suas. Obrigada.
The best book I have ever read. I laughed and cried- and truly loved every moment. Going to buy Incendiary first thing tomorrow!
Dear Mr. Cleave, Thank you for the courage and sincerity. While reading your book I found in myself. I think this book is a symbol of loyalty and sacrifice. I felt the book so that the heat of the beach and waves and I cried , I cried.
My English is not very good but our emotions are the same so I think you understand me because I understand you.
I hope that this work brings to write an exaple to the whole world. Of all the thieves and war and massacres in the world for more than just people.
I’ M PRAYING ALL THE LITTLE BEES.
Thanks for sharing this great book from the New York times bes seller list.. I´ve personally purchased this book around 10 minutes back and look forward reading it.
Thanks a lot,
I know what Little Bee felt, when I got asylum in the United States from my Birth Place Cuba, also the wonderful people that gave us refuge, a hand and a place to live, and food for my family,they were Angels that came to guide us and give us hope for a new home in the United State of America.
Reading your book was like living those unforgetable memories.
Just finished this remarkable book which is extremely thought provoking. How does a person survive death…of family, of a tribe, of self? This story shows how uniquely lives can become intertwined and spark the growth of each other even during difficult times. Great selection for this month’s book club!
Marïa Dolores – vivo en Peru pero lo compré a través de Amazon.
Thanks Chris for writing Little Bee/The Other Hand. The world needs wake up calls like this. You wrote both women extremely well and the combined narratives really challenged cultural perspectives. Was hooked from the opening paragraph. Look forward to reading more of your work.
Re: Little Bee
Why are there two different titles for this book? Which do you prefer??
We will discuss Little Bee tomorrow at our Book Club. You have give us a treasure for sure.
I am speechless. This book is utterly brilliant.
Hola necesito adquirir el libro Little Bee. Vivo en Ecuador. Cómo podría conseguirlo. Saludos
Congratulations … I’m Turkish … This novel is very impressive … Beginning very boring but with time is well … The writing style verry good … That I had enough … Thanks again … “HcR Ky”
I just finished the Küçük Arı which is the Turkish version of Little Bee and i didn’t wanna pass without saying it really was one of the greatest book i have read this year. I have some couple questions, actually I’m wondering if the continue of the Little Bee will be published? Because I really wanna know what’s gonna be happen next, after the telling real name and getting arrested. And i wanna thank the our Author once more for lettin’ our literature to gain this kind of masterpiece. Thank you. Thank you so much.
I was deeply moved by your book. It was very powerful. I kept thinking about Little Bees life and tried to imagine going through all she did at such a young age. She is a very strong woman emotionally. I feel so for these people who seek asylum. A novel that should be read by all!
Dear Mr. Cleave, Could you explain the ending??? Our book club had a heavy discussion. There were many different opinions expressed.
Thank you so much. Karen Palumbo
I loved, loved, loved this book. So well written. I felt every emotion possible while reading this book. Passed it on to others, and they had the same experience.
Can’t wait to read “The Other Hand” and “Incendiary”. Keep writing!!!
I just finished reading Little Bee and I loved it. I teach 4th grade in California and my finance is English. 🙂 I used your book in a class discussion on character development. I also enjoyed reading a book with a lot of the English vocabulary we don’t use that my husband to be does. Thank you for the lovely book and cheers. 🙂
Heartbreaking, but beautiful and so thoughtful. Thank you. Your characters were extraordinary…..I think I will be haunted by the girl in the Dunlop trainers for some time.
Chris, how are you?
My name is Bianca and I speak from Sao Paulo, Brazil. I would say that I read Little Bee by indication of a friend, a journalist. I am a journalist and was also in love with Sarah, Andrew and Udo (Little Bee). Thank you for gifting us with a story as beautiful and engaging. Today I bought the “Incendiary ” and as soon plan to buy the “On the other side. ” But I would ask him to do a “Part 2 Little Bee. ” Kisses, Bianca.
Thank you so much for such a great book. Enjoyed every sec of reading it.
Thank you so much for writing such a great story. My sister told me that I would not want to put it down and she was right. I look forward to discussing it at book club tomorrow night.
I really loved LIttle Bee (the other hand). I started reading it because, in truth, I was bored and needed a book for my Language Arts report. So, I looked on our living room bookshelf and instantly the orange binding struck out at me as if to say “read me,” so I picked it up and was thrilled I did from that moment on. Personally, I could not relate to any of the characters only being in 8th grade, but Chris did an excellent job of making you feel connected to the characters as if they were your dearest friend. By the end of the book, I felt as if i knew the characters up close and personal, I could feel all of the characters feelings: anxiety, fear, stress, love, etc. Once i got to the last chapter I was so sad, it was as if an old friend had died, i did not want my short-lived relationship with Sarah, Little Bee, Charlie, and even Lawrence to end. The ending was good, but i was dying to know what happened to Bee after the soldier took her by the soldier.
Dear Mr. Cleave, Thank you for writing this book. I like to think that a book like this has the potential to save lives, and bridge the comprehension gap between political asylum seekers/refugees/immigrants and their host communities. I was very deeply moved. It is not a story and a lesson that I will likely forget easily. Thank you.
Hi, The scene in which Charlie/Batman falls into Andrew’s grave is one of the most beaurtiful pieces of writing I have ever read! Simply feel that needed to be said…
A moment of insanity, lasts a lifetime, moving us in directions we never thought plausible. Your book was remarkable. I loved the characters. The reality of Sarah and Andrews relationship was tragic and lives in real life in households across the world. I read this book as truth in all aspects of it. For these are real situations living in this moment of time. May people read this book and learn about their own person. Would you cut off a finger? And though Sarah kept saying Andrew wasn’t right for her. In the end he was her rock, no he didn’t cut off his finger, he took his life for hers. She would have never found herself, the good of her.
Little bee and all the Little Bees and Kindness in the world, my heart breaks for them. Evil lives in this day, in this moment as horrific as described in your book.
And that is a very disturbing reality. May we live to see the world find peace. Thank you for the genius you are. Donna
I just finished Little Bee and as much as we all know happy endings aren’t always the case in this world we live in….they still are sought out, in ways they might give us
hope and energy to continue on the meaning behind “never giving up”. I loved the book, couldn’t put it down, but as others have said, I was left wanting for more. What
actually did become of Little Bee? Did Sarah continue to fight for her….was she allowed to….did she eventually write Andrew’s book, etc. And I LOVE the Batman! Having
two boys and a grandson of my own…..you nailed it on the head……..and how wonderful that you based that character on your own son…….LOVE IT! The cry for a sequel
is large here, and I join the group. The open ending of Little Bee lends itself to so much. You have touched on a common theme in so many parts of the world that so many of us in more civilized areas don’t encounter in that way. You have touched on a beautiful avenue to deliver awareness and discussion for the masses to not only enjoy the ride through your gifted writing, but to ask further……. what can we do? An avenue far from the media that has made so many become too desensitized. Please, give us more on Little Bee and her plight…….PLEASE! Thank you so much for this eyeopening story of fiction…….but also of such unspoken truth. mwr
Chris, I listened to this on my iPod. It is truly a wonderful story and beautifully structured. So many intersections and important questions carefully raised about how we know who we are and what makes it possible to see ourselves in others with (or without) compassion. Bravo!
I am from Turkey and just finished the book this morning on the train but I wish it wouldn’t end so quick.I did love the language and especially the conversations of Little Bee with us.It is hard to take it out of my mind but now it is easier to understand the other Little Bees in our country even though they don’t ever tell us anything about their lives in motherlands…Happy to read this book, happy to know….
This was a wonderfully written story that highlighted so many parts of life- both the good and the bad. Thank you for reminding me what is important, including the world at home and the world around me. I can’t wait to read your first novel and the other stories you have to tell.
Hi Chris, I am a college student reading the book and in page 27 you write that Sarah’s country is fighting Iraq and Afghanistan. This led me to believe that Sarah was from America and currently living in the U.K. my professor strongly agreed but said if i can get your response i would get a huge amount of EXTRA CREDIT!. my professor are in strong disagreement and your response would be very helpful , thank you
I bought “Little Bee” on a whim and couldn’t be happier about my purchase. The story was so moving and as an International Studies major, recent graduate and fellow humanitarian this book has opened my eyes and encouraged me to go out and try to change the world. Thank you.
I just finished reading your book “Little Bee” and I absolutely loved it. But, it took a very long time for me to start reading it… despite having been given a copy by two friends. I don’t think the title of the book is very alluring,
I think that a better, more enticing, and entirely appropriate title would have been: “And then the men came”
Hi, i was wondering if you had a movie of this book. But i looked and there isnt… i already read it and i think its amazing and a very touching story. i really think you should make a movie great novel.. congrats 🙂
Little Bee is a book that made me totally lose track of time and place. I was enthralled! horrified! warmed! transported into the story. Thank you, Chris, for the story, the characters, and for exposing the reality of these issues. I can’t wait for Book Club next week to see what others thought!! Wish you could be with us!
Chris, I received your book for Xmas from my daughter. I found it to be an excellant and inspiring read. That Little Batman broke my heart. The use of language was delightful; it was the prefect foil to so serious a topic. Thank you for the book. ( I have thanked my daughter as well 😉 Debbie
Just finished “Little Bee”. An emotional roller coaster of a read. Thank you for expanding my horizons!
i’ve just begun reading the novel. love ur website & the blog about your fam and children. i’m fairly new @ motherhood and truly enjoyed the very familiar scenarios. thank you so much for sharing. are u on fb?
Chris your novel was beautiful. It was intense, I truly sat on the edge of my seat with my eyes wide, gripping the book. All leading up to what happens in this ‘truly special story’ (as written on the back). And it was, it really was a truly special story. But I was just so disapointed at the end. I hate that I feel this way, because I really, really did love it. But I was so committed to this story and these women that I felt let down at the end. WHAT HAPPENED?? I hope that you write a sequel as well.
Please, tell us that there will be a sequel to Little Bee. Throughout the book I was so anxious to find out what happened in the end until I found out what happened in the end. All I could think was “No, no a thousand times no!”. But then I realized, it was the perfect ending for a sequel. Am I on the right track? Please do comment.
Hi Laurie, thanks for your message. I never intended to write a sequel, and the ending to Little Bee is ambiguous because… well, I think I just like open endings. But a lot of people have been asking for a sequel, and I am thinking about whether I should write one. I guess the honest answer is that if I think I can push the moral questions in the novel further by extending the story, then I will do so, but I won’t just extend the story for the sake of it. I would need to find a theme that took the characters to another level. I might revisit them when they are older – when perhaps Little Bee is a mother and Sarah is a grandmother. Anyway, I’m thinking about it, and I’m grateful to you for asking the question. It does make a difference to my thinking.
What can I say – great book. Thank you.
I just finished Little Bee and am still trying to catch my breath. After the past few weeks with the news out of Middle East and people standing up to horrible government it strikes me of how blessed I am to be a citizen of a place that usually values life. I want to take Little Bee and Batman into a world that should be much kinder, yet power controls the world. I know it was fiction – yet so true to the world in which we live. The pain and yet hope for humanity is palpable…
I live in Brazil and I came across “Little Bee” last month, in a trip to the US (by the way, I went to a bookstore here in Brazil last week and found out that it is already published in portuguese!). I was deeply impressed by the story, pretty much like a punch on my stomach!! Even though we cannot end all the suffering in the world, raising the flag is already a good start. Congratulations for your wonderful book! Best wishes,
This very sad and depressing book was beautifully written. My chest is still a knot and my eyes are stinging.
The crimes you have vividly described in this book are awful and especially so because although the story is fiction, these things have happened more than once – throughout the history of mankind.
Is there hope?
This book is making its rounds in the Yucatan where I live and we all “love” it.
I have just read Little Bee. It is the first novel of yours I have read. It will be the last. I do not want to read books that are so despairing and negative. I know real life can be worse in some places than I could imagine. I live in the U.S. But I still do not want to read about suffering and tradgedy to have it end on a negative note. I already have live through my own.
Hi Chris, I read many reviews about Little Bee and saw it week after week in the NYT Book Review before I finally picked it up and decided to read it. Words cannot describe how amazed I was by my feelings I while reading and how I feel now that I am done. You have given me so many things to think about. I can relate to every character in Little Bee on some scale. Truly amazing writing and voice. I can’t wait to read Incendiary. Thank you!!
Hi Chris, just finished Little Bee and can’t say enough about how much I enjoyed it. I’m living in Shenzhen, China (next to Hong Kong) and was hoping to get a Chinese translation of it for a friend. Any idea if one is available that I can pick up in Hong Kong or on the Mainland?
Just finished reading “Little Bee” last night. PLEASE write a sequel to this book. Let us know what happened to Little Bee. There has to be hope in this world or else why bother? I can’t bare to think that she was slaughtered like her sister. I’m not sure what kind of message you were trying to send. Thank you for tauthoring “Little Bee”. I look forward to reading more books from you!
Dear Chris Cleave,
I just finished “little bee”, deeply touched!
Thank you very much for this book, I will try me best to
distribute it in germany.
Best wishes for you and your family
Hi Beatrix – thank you very much indeed. Best wishes to you and yours, too.
At the strong suggestion of a friend I bought Little Bee in an airport this past Monday. I read 2/3 on a cross country trip and finished it this afternoon on the last leg of the trip home. I don’t know how or where to begin to even put into words how much your writing moved me. It’s a stunning book with such beautifully crafted characters. Thank you for letting me get lost in the book and for making me laugh as well as bawl. Question for you, and I may have missed it on the site – why the name change for US publication? Thank you, Katie
I very much enjoyed hearing you read and speak at Powell’s on Friday, January 14th. I have tried to remember the 4 questions you mentioned that help you with character development – I should have taken notes! Would you please share them again?
Hi Kathye, thanks for coming to the Powell’s event. I thoroughly enjoyed it too! What a lovely crowd, and what an amazing bookstore. Powell’s, and Portland, are two of the world’s best-kept secrets. The four questions I ask of my characters are: What was the best day of your life? What was the worst day of your life? What do you hope for? And what are you afraid of? I find that if you think about such things, and the follow-up questions they spawn, then you begin to understand the character as an individual rather than just an exemplar of a category of people. Works for me, anyway – but of course there are many ways to skin that cat! Hope all is well with you – hope to see you next time I’m in Portland. Best wishes,
I finished this book in one day. I loved it. Thank you for writing it. I want to know what happens next!
Dear Chris Clave
Little bee was amazing,I left a message to you but couldn’t get an answer. I want to try again because if I get your permission I will prepare my master thesis on Little Bee.please reply as soon as possibble, I am looking forward to it.
Hi Özlem – actually I did reply to your original message here. I said that I would happily respond in this forum to any questions you want to post. Thank you for reading the book and for your kind words. You don’t need my permission to prepare your thesis on Little Bee, but you have my thanks and best wishes. Hope the work goes well!
My spouse and I just got through the immigration process, two months after we were married and our citizen application was sent off he was diagnosed with cancer, we had to hide it for two years as our application dragged through offices, you see if it had been discovered he would have been denied or at best our case would have never left the government offices, (we have a friend who got breast cancer who this has happened to) Now a citizen he is covered in scars from surgeries and yes, scars are beautiful, because his scars mean he’s still here, surviving. Your book is amazing and I wanted to let you know it’s message casts a wide net.
This book was amazing. I’m so glad I splurged and bought it, as I can’t wait to pass it on to my mom and probably read it again myself. I found it hard to read fast, but I couldn’t put it down. To me, that is the sign of a truly wonderful book. It really made me think about so many things. I am hopeful there will be a 2nd book; there are so many things I still want to know about these characters!
Chris: Wow, this was the best book I have read in a long
time and I love to read. So much to think about. What a story.
Actually, it was more than a story; it was an epic. Thank you and
I wish I could describe in words as eloquently as you have in Little Bee, how amazing your book is. I felt like I was in college again, and wanted to highlight all the most important, “wow” moments in the book. It was all too soon that I realized that the whole book would have been highlighted.
Thank you so much for such an inspirational book and sharing your talents. I can’t wait to share it with others and read it again and again.
I now can’t wait to pick up Incendiary.
We of Brazil love your book…
I just finished Little Bee and really enjoyed it! My neighborhood book club is reading it and our book club is this sunday and I thought I would ask a question in hopes I could get a response in time for our meeting.
So here goes! There are plenty political aspects of the book, and I was wondering why you chose for Sarah not to contact any authorities when the incident occurred? No call to the embassy, or really anything. Was there a reason for that?
And also, I’m not buying that Andrew didn’t leave a note other than the text he sent. He was a writer and was possibly in the works of writing a book. Why no note?
I loved how you phased out the “how am I going to kill myself in this room” as she grew stronger. It made the ending that much more perplexing! Loved it!
Just some random thoughts. Loved the book! I feel a better person for reading it. Look forward to your future work!
I finished reading “Little Bee” this morning. Then I listened to “One” by U2 and I was absolutely transported further into the world of your book. I am so sad for the loss of Little Bee’s sister Kindness. I can’t stop thinking about her horrible death. Her character was so touching and her death so undeserving! You portrayed so many deeply moving scenes…the women dividing the food brought by the farmer’s wife into five portions, giving the biggest helping to the daughter of the woman with no name, because she was still growing. What bittersweet and haunting images you have placed in my mind and heart. I am just so full of sorrow for these people. Thank you for writing this amazing book. Thanks a lot for the good cry. I need some hope now. Maybe I’ll do a random act of kindness in honor of this story.
Hello Chris, I just finished reading “Little Bee” after I had gotten it as a present about 2 days ago. I simply wanted to tell you how impressive your book was and that I was amazed at how many emotions it set free in me. I love how there was horror and sadness, but also humor and so much warmth (Batman is adorable and one cannot help but fall in love with Little Bee, as Sarah does, too). And I really liked how I kept asking myself how I would react in such situations- what prejudices are hidden in my own mind without me really realizing them, etc. The only bad thing about it was that I am sad I have already finished it and that I couldn´t stop reading it and thus fell behind in the work I am having to do for University, etc. Oh, and that ending of course (though from a writer´s perspective you did an extremely great job), STILL the naive little superhero in me would have liked seeing Udo/Little Bee and the others living on forever and ever in happiness… 😉 Your anecdote about the man from Angola who took his own life in order to save his son almost made me cry out loud in the train. Very touching info… Thus, thank you for writing this very great, sad, humorous and especially socially engaging book!
Hello Chris, Happy New Year. Thanks to you I scrapped my
New Year’s Eve celebratory plans and sat riveted in my reading
chair the whole night, so engrossed it took a minute to realize
what was happening when an annoying disturbance to my read turned
out to be my neighborhood going bonkers at midnight! It’s been a
long time since I have been so moved by a novel. You have a
powerful gift, thank you for using it in this way. I will tell
everyone I know about this book! Oh, and one thing, I found it
interesting that in such a short time, Little Bee’s habit of
knowing exactly what she’d do “if the men came” went out the
window, so much so that when they did, she didn’t seem to be
thinking about it. Was she healed by finding love in her heart
again for Sarah and Charlie, so much so that she no longer wanted
to take her own life? Or did the experiences with two suicides take
away her penchant for it? Could she really have been so distracted
from this survival mechanism so quickly? Of course, the story stops
right at a moment when that could’ve been the very next
thought….. Thank you again for this amazing story. I must run out
and get ‘Incendiary.’ And of course I’ll wait patiently for more!
Sincerely, Beth Littlewolf
Just finished “Little Bee” pretty much in one day. I could not put it down. I want to know more. Maybe you could have Sarah write Andrew’s book? I was not expecting a “and they all lived happily ever after” ending, but I want more!!
Kelli, thanks for your message. I have been thinking that I might write a coda to the novel, which people could download from my website… so stay tuned for updates! Thanks & best wishes – Chris
I read Little Bee in June while my husband and I were vacationing in Spain (away from our 2 year old son) for our 10 year anniversary. Missing my son incredibly (who also adores his batman & superman pj’s), I was so consumed with the book that I read it in a day and a half and could not stop thinking about the novel since. I have passed this book onto as many friends as I can and have explained that it opened my eyes to so many issues and feelings I was not prepared for. When I got back from vacation I couldn’t wait to find out “who is this author”? I was amazed to see that you were also the author of Incendiary. I have not read the book yet because I saw the movie (without knowing it was based on a book otherwise I would of read the book first). As a first time mom, the movie was so incredibly hard to watch and again I told so many of my friends about the plot and how moving it was to me. It made complete sense once I found out the the authors of these two books were once in the same. Little Bee is my most favorite book I have ever read and I cannot wait to read something else from you. Thank you Chris.
Hi Ami – what a great message – thank you very much. And congratulations to you & your husband on your 10 years and your superhero son!
What does “Weh” mean? I’ve looked everywhere. Thanks
Hi Katy – “weh” is a general expression of amazement, astonishment, or interest, perhaps akin to our own “you don’t say!” – and it can be used in a corresponding range of registers, from the sincere to the ironic or sarcastic. I remember it from when I was a young child, when we lived in Cameroun and when we went on holidays in Nigeria.
This was truly an amazing book that made me pause and think and question and appreciate and so many other things. Thank you.
Thank you, Lena.
Gosto de me dar presentes. O último presente que ganhei de mim mesma foi comprar o seu livro a PEQUENA ABELHA. Para continuar me presenteando quero lhe dizer obrigada pelo livro. No final fiquei feliz de ver que Pequena Abelha tem o nome quase que igual ao meu em meu idioma, a saber, o português. Grata Hulda Morais ( leitora do Brasil).
I thought The Little Bee was a well written book with an encouraging message. I appreciate your attempt to enlighten and inform us about the issues at hand in other countries, and immigration problems. However, I thought your facts were a inaccurate. Your facts about Nigeria and some of the events you described did not coincide with current events.
Other than that it was a good book overall
Hi Molly – thank you for your kind comment. I guess my first (and rather superficial) response would be that the novel is fiction, and that one wouldn’t necessarily expect the events in its narrative to correspond with real events on the ground. A deeper response would be that there is a subset of novels which do set their imagined events within a framework that closely corresponds to a real historical situation, and perhaps we should discuss the extent to which my novel is one of them. If you can give examples of the passages with which you take issue, that would be a good starting point for the discussion & I would be happy to respond.
such a wonderful book! i LOVED everything about it – thank you. i was just wondering why an obviously educated woman like sarah tells little bee “this isn’t nazi germany.”…poor germans
Hi Alexandra – I agree with you – it’s a pretty shocking thing for Sarah to say. It’s a cliché phrase that I heard a lot while I was researching the novel. It’s used by some British people when they want to make the point that the British state has respect for human life and human rights. And of course it is true that the British state has respect for human life and human rights – but it’s also true that it has less respect for the life and rights of non-UK citizens than is has for its own. In my opinion Sarah is making the wrong historical parallel. If she was asserting that the countries which turned away refugees from the Holocaust in the late-1930s and early-1940s would no longer turn away refugees, then that would be a better starting point for discussion.
Just finished Little Bee. Absolutely woderful novel. Loved it
Thank you, Gez
Sevgili Chris! Küçük Arı çok ama çok güzel bir kitap. Ellerine, emeğine, yüreğine sağlık…
Thank you, Raziye.
why is the book titled The Other Hand in the other countries?
This is the most brilliant book that I know. I actually listened to the audio and the reader did an excellent job with all of the voices. I actually looked you up because I was so sure that a woman wrote it (from the perspective of women and knowing details like the introverted new mother), and was surprised that it was written by a man. I loved all of the imagery. I loved the jeep scene with the description of the sunglasses and how the lens was cleaned by the snail and that is how she knew he was looking at the sky. I love the ways that little bee would kill herself (a wife of Henry VIII) and how she couldn’t in the nursery. I was so sure that she would kill herself in the end when the men came in London and when the men came on the beach, but it was so fitting that she saved Sarah’s life(her son) on the beach just as Sarah had done for her. I was deeply moved and felt so sad when the book was over, like I had lost a friend. I am a huge fan, and I can’t wait to read Incendiary and The Guardian column and everything else that you write. I am giving this book to three friends for Christmas.
Also, Chris, why is the book titled The Other Hand in the other three countries?
Hepimiz Hazreti Ademin çocuklarıyız. Dünya hepimiz ile güzel. Her rengi, kokusu, kültürü ile insanlar değerli. Bir kısım insanların çatlayıncaya kadar yemesi, diğerlerinin açlıktan ölmesi.
Eserinizi severek okudum.
Hazreti Muhammed a.s Zulme karşı elinizle, dilinizle, hiç olmazsa kalbinizle karşı koyun der.
Siz kaleminizle çarpışıyorsunuz. Tebrikler
I literally devoured this book a couple of months ago. There is one quote “We must see all scars as beauty. Okay? This will be our secret. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived” I just shared this with my friend who has battled lung cancer and for now has won but has some scarring. I think of this quote all the time.
I live in the end of the world and in this times many of my compatriots and neighboring contries emigrate to europe, and sometimes are good, but most are sad stories. So your book it’s not only true but our truth. Nobody goes somewhere because she/he wants to [mostly at least] but because there’s a need to it, almost always a sad one.
I’m a Pediatrician and I get to see, the children that are left behind of mothers that go looking for some hope. Anyway mister Cleave, seems to me you already know all of this. I don’t want to sound corny but my eyes are moist when I thank you for being a voice up there for those who don’t have any. Maybe you notice english is not my native tongue, I thoroughly enjoy your book in the literary way, a pleasure, since I bought the audiobook is also very well read.
Thank you for the audio version. One question thou:
Why you don’t allow your book to be sold to some geographical region like south america? Isn’t that an incoherence?
Hi Myrtha, thanks for your very kind comment. In answer to your question, I do now have one publisher in South America – in Brazil, and I hope that I will be able to find other publishers in the region. It’s not because I don’t allow the book to be sold. It’s just really hard to find publishers!
Dear Mr. Cleave,
What a remarkable and touching book you have written. I’ve never written to an author before, but your book touched me so deeply I had to tell you thank you. We are reading it in our book club and it is the first book I’ve ordered on my Kindle. Like Little Bee I believe our stories can live in others and make us transcendent.
I read Little Bee last night and tonight. It’s 6:30 in the morning and my dogs are like, “WHAT is going on…”
My friend Ryan had to read it for a class at UNF. He has good taste and raved about it… Little Bee this and Little
Bee that… I’m so glad to have read this. I’ve learned so much and been on an emotional rollercoaster. What a good trick!
This book is so thought provoking, I have a Nigerian granddaughter and the story has had me researching all aspects of life in Nigeria. Thank you
I read Little Bee in one day. I couldn’t put it down. I am a teacher and I have decided to offer it to my students. I can’t wait to discuss it with the. Thanks for the beautiful, rich language and thank you for writing a story that is so multi-layered.
Little Bee is an excelent book. The ending was a little disapponting, what did finally happen to Little Bee. Did she live or did the soldiers kill her?
“Weh!” Thank you for a beautiful and heartbreaking story. And thank you for telling Little Bee’s story. Little Bee is now apart of me. This will be one of the books I read over and over.
hayatımda en çok severek ve keyifle okuduğum bir kitap sana teşekkür ederim chris diğer romanlarınıda takip edeceğim başarılar
VERY interestting novel, while i was reading all the Imaginary characters were bluring in my eyes cant wait for the movie based on Little Bee .
Dear Mr Cleave
I’m Brasilian woman 70 years old and I read your book Little Bee in a very good translation. I loved this book and I’ll never forget Udo.
Thank you for writing it and I hope some day I’ll be able to read your books at original language.
why does the woman on the cover of” llittle bee” appear to have an engagement or wedding ring on??? seems out of place.
Hello Mr. Cleave…. my friends and i read Little Bee as a group and overall it was great…. thanks for the great novel and my friends and i really enjoyed it!
Thank you Metin
Chris: At our book club meeting last night we discussed Little Bee. Everyone there enjoyed the novel but we have a question for you. We could not decide what the covers represent. Who is the “eye” on Little Bee’s profile. Also, The Other Hand – what does the “tree with the birds, animals, and other items” represent?
Can’t stop thinking about little bee. I loved the way it ended because it is a close reflection of reality. What may have happened to little bee after her capture? And Sarah? I’m thankful that I can finish this story in my head and take it all in my own direction. And you Chris Cleave, you must have a compassionate heart. A very compassionate heart.
Thank you Farah.
I really love both your books, I read them every few months haha 🙂 Please write more!
Thanks Stevie! And I’m writing as quick as I can…
I really enjoyed reading Little Bee and couldn’t put it down – – – until the ending, which left me up in the air! I hated that, after waiting for the “happily ever after”. I would probably never read another of your books because it really depressed me to be left hanging. A friend who read the book felt the same way.
Thanks Madge – but if refugee stories mostly ended “happily ever after” then I wouldn’t have needed to write the book.
We, our book club that is, read your book for our monthly choice for October. We all decided it was an extremely powerful book, gave us much to think about, and is such a relevant book for our times. Thank you for combining current issues, vivid and wonderful characters into such a readable book. We all enjoyed it, and our discussion was quite animated. I do have a question to ask you about your choice of location for the BLACK HILL IMMIGRATION REMOVAL CENTER – Why did you dedide to use the village of High Easter in Essex? Do you have any connections with that village? When I read (pg. 12) of your book I was completely taken by surprise to see my mother’s home village in print. When I lived in England 40 years ago very few people even knew where the village of High Easter was! Looking forward to hearing your reason/s.
Hi Chris, thanks for your kind words about the book. I wanted to use one of the ten real immigration detention centres in the UK, but for legal reasons I wasn’t able to. Therefore, I decided to use a fictitious facility that closely resembled the real ones. The real facilities tend to be buried in the countryside, to my mind because if they’re out of sight, then they’re out if mind. However, they tend to be within an hour’s drive from a major town, because the staff required to run the facility need to be drawn from somewhere. So when I was siting my fictive facility, I was looking for an unfrequented rural area that was nevertheless close to London. I found several candidate sites on a road atlas, and visited a few until I found High Easter, which seemed to me to be ideal. So there is no special significance to the choice, apart from the physical location of the village.
I lead book groups in the San Francisco area. I am having all my groups read Little Bee. A remarkable novle and one rich for discussion.
Your book was chosen for our book club by me and I enjoyed the read. Most of our members were captured immediately at the start, but commented that they felt disappointed during the second half and at the ending. For example, why would Sarah accompany Little Bee back to Nigeria and stay given that it was so dangerous? And, mostly, why would they go back to that beach especially with Sarah’s son along? Did you purposely choose to expose the shallowness of the UK characters in order to highlight the seriousness of Little Bee’s Nigerian life? We wonder if you could give us your comments. Thank you
i’ve never felt so uncomfortable, vulnerable, or anxious throughout a novel – you are a true literary genius. thank you for sharing such a profound, relevant and vivid story. keep up the excellent work.
I loved your book. It’s a powerful story and so well written! My book group is comprised of women at our local yacht club. We are all sailors. I will be leading the discussion at our next meeting on Nov. 2nd. I was wondering if you would give me more background about you interest in sailing. Also, why is the book’s title changed for North America? Again, thank you for writing a marvelous book, I’m sure that our book group discussion will be lively.
Little bee changed my world. This book is refering crucial subject for the all the world people. We should think that how much of our lives. Some people are not lucky and can not write their own destiny. Thanks for Little Bee’s. Peace! Love from Turkey.
Thank you, Gökçe.
I just finished “Little Bee” and..wow..I was moved to big gulping tears by the end. This book has fixed a place in my heart as one of my favorites of all-time, and I believe it should be required reading for everyone. Thank you for this amazing gift to the literary world. I can only hope they do an amazing job with the film. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
October 9th, 2010
I am hosting our book club meeting this coming Monday and have a couple of questions for Chris. I used to teach Anthropology and often covered Africa in my lectures. One of my favorie books was by Paul Bohannon who lived in Nigeria and studied the Tiv and the book he is famous for is entitled Africa for Africans. What I would like to know is which tribe did Little Bee belong to and what language did she speak? The women she encountered in the Detention Center and later the women she met on the beach spoke a different language as Nigeria is composed of Bantu, Yoruba, and Haussa speakers. I assume that Little Bee was a a member of the Kwa who speak a Mande language. Additionally what year did the massacres occuring in their village take place? Thank you for your response!
I was at the airport and needed a book to get me through the flight. This yellow and black book caught my attention and so did the description in the back of it. Wow! I finished it in two days. Amazing story, characters and a wonderful way of telling their stories. Can’t wait for the movie! Great job Mr. Cleave. You have a new fan.
Before boarding a flight last weekend i bought the first book to grab my attention. The other hand. Wow ! Brilliant move on my part 😉 ! Love love love the voices, style, themes! Best read in ages!
Love from cathrine in Norway !
The Other Hand – what an amazing book – it made me laugh, it made me cry but most of all it made me think. I finished it two days ago and I just can’t get it out of my mind. Thank you so much for writing it.
Wow… I just finished the book and that’s the word that comes to mind. There were so many times that I found myself going back and reading a line over and over again. Your imagery is perfect. I will read it again with a highlighter and a pen and take notes. I’m delighted that your book will be a movie… although I know my heart will break again. Again, thank your for writing such an amazing book. I am going to have to go back to the bookstore and read all your books. Do you think you could give me the address to get a signed copy of the book or a signed bookplate?
I’m only up to page 52, but that was enough to prompt me to visit this site. the other hand is a beautifully written book – I am sure the plot will continue to intrigue and that I will continue to enjoy – but your writing is truly excellent. Thank you.
Thanks Mandy – but it goes downhill after page 52 I’m afraid…
I picked up your book at the Burlington International Airport two days ago and read it all the way to DC. I dreamed about it during the night and finished it on the way home yesterday. I gave it to my husband after I got home; he started reading it and also dreamed about it during the night. He’ll probably finish it this afternoon. He is a youth pastor who leads young adults on mission trips to “developing” nations such as Jamaica to give them a taste of life outside of the USA, and I am the director of a non-profit that builds schools and feeds orphaned and displaced children in “developing” nations. You have reached both of our hearts.
After reading the last sentence I was so connected to Little Bee, Batman and Sarah that I wanted to phone you and ask what happened next – especially to Little Bee. Her character is engraved on my heart forever.
Thank you for sharing your incredible talent with the world. I’ll be looking for your next book.
Ruth – thank you to you & your husband for reading my book, & for your kind words. Sounds like fascinating and useful work you are doing.
I was pulled in by the beauty of the language. I am compelled to read on by the ache in my heart.
Thanks Kate – delighted you’re enjoying it.
Good afternoon Chris,
Purchased your book in the airport just by chance the cover caught my eye. I have to say this is one the best books I’ve read in some time! You have such a gift, this book screams MOVIE! I will be passing this book on to my daughter may God continue to bless you on your journey I will never forget Little Bee!
Iris – thanks for your kind words. As is happens, the book is to be made into a movie. They’ve just sent me the screenplay & it looks good, so I’m looking forward to the film.
I recently finished Little Bee and it will be the topic of my book club discussion on Friday 10/1. I loved your book so much! You wrote an amazing and captivating story, peppered with highly developed characters who I couldn’t help but love. This is the best book I have read in a very long time. I think I may be your new biggest fan!
I am a long time lover of books, and I recently thought it would be great to start a collection of my favorites signed by their authors. Can I get you to be my first? I’ll be happy to send my copy to any address you can provide and will even include return postage if I can just get you to sign my book. Unless of course you’ll be somewhere near CT in the US any time soon? Please advise.
Hi Jessica – glad you liked the book – thank you! I am supporting my local independent bookseller here in London who will mail signed copies anywhere in the world, or alternatively you can get a signed book plate from my US publisher. I will email you both addresses. Best wishes, Chris.
Thanks, Chris, for a superbly written book. I have been attending a book club at Penn. And this month our group suggested we read “Little Bee”. I bought the book and I couldn’t put it down. I was so engrossed in the tales of those two women from two different world. It was as if I had join their journey and experience much of the things, sights and sounds they had encountered. The book evoked so many emotions, i.e., sorrow, pain and injury. I thought a lot about the social injustice in the world today. But that being said, I felt strong and encouraged to see that if we help one another, the world doesn’t have to be a dark place. But together we can shine a bright light in the life of those who need compassion and understanding. Bravo! You did a good job in the writing of this novel.
Hi Chris, I have to admit that I had never heard of Little Bee before being drawn to the cover in the bookstore at JFK International airport on my way home earlier this year. So let me first say kudos to your design/ publishing team- mission accomplished! Of course, after reading the back cover, I was so curious, I was sold. Everyone has already said it in this space, but let me repeat the sentiment…thank you for writing such an amazing story. I was hooked from beginning to end, (which rarely happens). Not only was the writing brilliant, but the characters were so vivid, believable and real! I happen to be Jamaican so I have to congratulate you on ‘Yevette’–you clearly did your research and I appreciated the authenticity of her language, personality, attitude and style. She was hilarious! As we yaadies would say “l laugh till I nearly dead!” But seriously, great job! You are officially on my ‘writers to watch’ list and I look forward to reading your other works. Walk good!
Hi Alicia – thanks – I agree with you re the cover. Designed by a guy called Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich, a genius I think, who keeps his website here. And thanks for your letting me know that you liked Yevette. I worry about whether I get the voices right and it means a lot to me that you think I did okay.
Hi Chris Your book was astounding. A friend gave it to me in the US while I was on vacation there from South Africa. The book intertwined humor with tragedy so brilliantly. I loved the introspective manner that you dealt with the emotional aspects of all your characters. The story combined the the 1st and 3rd world in a very compelling way. The title had a special meaning for me as my late grandmother used to call me Bienchen – which means little B in German. If you ever come to Cape Town let me know I will show you around this beautiful place. When’s you next book out???/
Thanks Bridget / Bienchen! I’m working very hard on the next book right now. I’m more into it than anything I’ve done before – really loving the writing process this time. I think it will come out mid-2011, assuming the publishers think I’ve done okay with it.
I started your book at 10pm last night (LIttle Bee) read til I couln’t any more about 3:30am. Woke up at 5:30 and read ’til I finished it. I can’t get it out of my head, so many vivid images and I am mad and sad and glad I found your book. I am going to the US human rights website next. I am excited to see you will be in Seattle in May. I will have my book club read this book for sure. Thanks for bringing this issue to our attention.
Hi Victoria – many thanks – and sorry about the sleep deprivation. Hope your book club will enjoy it. I’ll see you in Seattle then.
I haven’t finished Little Bee, but I reached the part where Little Bee finds the Jeep in the jungle with the skeleton inside….a remnant of the war so many years before……and I just had to write to you. My parents lived in Nigeria in 1966-67 and were able to leave before the conflict was too bad. My father was in charge of drilling oil wells ‘up the river’ and dealt with the native people all the time, both as an employer and a friend. He told of having to pay the juju woman to cast ‘good luck’ spells so the well would be successful. I wish I had listened more carefully to his stories. The top floor of the villa behind my parent’s house in Lagos disappeared one day when a bomb maker’s creation blew up. There were many other stories of violence leading up to the tragic war against the Ibo. I did not know of the events thirty years after my parents were evacuated that caused such horror during the ‘oil wars’. I love this book, I love the character of Little Bee, and will do research on the subject. My father passed away in 1996. My brother was an engineer on offshore Nigerian wells and commuted to and from London where he and my sister-in-law, nephews and nieces resided in Kensington. He passed away in 2002. He never told his stories.
Rena – thank you for sharing your story. Yes, the jeep / jungle scene refers to a relic of the Biafran war. As you say, there are many tragic stories around that conflict. There are also some very strange ones – maybe none stranger than the story of the Biafran Air Force, which I was researching recently.
I was a pretty good reader growing up. My first language is Spanish so I grew up reading Garcia Marquez, Borges, Neruda, Vargas Llosa, etc. and I loooved it. Then I moved to the US, had children and got too busy to read. I am fluent in English but it was hard to connect to books in English and I just didn’t try hard. This summer things changed. Someone on a TV show talked about Little Bee so, as I prepared for vacation, I decided to buy it and see if I could get into it. I LOVED it – LOVED it. I admire you for being able to build such rich, complex and honest characters and for putting together such a beautiful human story. It was hard to read it at times. Having lost my father at a very young age, it was particularly difficult to read through the part about the funeral…heart-breaking. Just wanted to say thanks for bringing me back to the world of books through such a deep journey. I’ve started reading Incendiary now… Thanks.
Thank you Monica – what a great message! I’m delighted you liked the book. It is hard to read books when you have young children isn’t it? I used to read in the evenings and now I spend that time un-trashing the house & mending plastic toys with superglue. Strangely it’s still fun, isn’t it?
Just read Little Bee . . . still astonished. And changed. The complexities of our current world are so extreme, so boundless. How can any one person make a difference? I am an artist which often seems so pointless. I used to believe that engaging in the creation of beauty (which is the only currency that I truly understand) had enough power to combat cruelty and ugliness, at least on some subtle level . . . a bit naive, to be sure, but it was the only ‘reason’ that I could attribute to my creative abilities. Little Bee caused me to look inwards and see a more practical thing that I could offer, something that could truly be life changing for someone. LANGUAGE. The ability to communicate. I am going to learn to teach English as a second language. I thank Udo from the bottom of my heart for causing me to find this new way to serve and so broaden my creative pupose/vision.
Thanks Kate. Giving language support to people who need it is an excellent and very practical way to get involved. Good on you, & good luck.
Thank you for a great book. However, I’m not sure Little Bee would give herself up even for the child, Charlie. She didn’t stop Andrew from killing himself in order to survive, and I doubt she would have given in on the beach with the soldiers there. Sorry to be such a “downer”.
Greetings from Turkey.I got a lot of tear on my face while the book was finishing.”Küçük arı” was splendid I think.it was excellent.it was too real.I couldn’t believe that it was not real.Thank you so much to give to my world this book.I want to meet you,one day.I’d like to see you,one day.I hope I will able to realize it.
Have a excellent writing! 🙂
Chris – Just finished the book. Thought it would end happier but now upset that they went back to Nigeria. I think that your feeling in your writing is amazingly accurate but how a man came to write so thoughtfully about a young girl and woman’s perspective is truly unique. Thank you for the caring and informative insight. I read this book in one weekend, which I never do. Thank You!
I read this book I believe it was a year ago. And I was so very touched by the depth of the story and its characters. As a women, i tend to pick-up more of the chick lit type of stories with happy endings and all. But this book, just got me from the bookshelf at my local library. Thank you for writing something so deep and profound that has me looking for much deeper prose. The world is indeed terrible at times….I bring up your book as a must read all the time. Thank you
Thank you so much for your haunting and beautiful story. Yours is a truly gifted voice, and the world needs you to keep on doing this. Compassion, love, suffering, pain, and back to Globalization. All I can say is, “WOW!”
I bought “Little Bee” in an airport 3 days ago and just finished it. The horrible scene on the beach will not let me go. But your ability to weave humor into a the fabric of a tragic story is remarkable. Like others, I want to know what happened to Bee, Sarah, and Charlie after the story ended. (I don’t really care what happened to Lawrence.) I would love to think that everything turned out all right in the end, as in Bee’s fantasy, but of course, your point is that it often doesn’t. What happens next is up to us. Thank you for creating a book that shows how all of our lives are woven together, whether we know it or not.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. To say, “I loved this book.” would imply that it was just a book. You have an amazing knack for speaking for the people whose voices have been sewn shut. Normally I would scoff at a book primarily about women written by a man. You nailed it. You completely nailed it. Every detail…so thank you for such a beautiful, tragic, mortifying, scary, genuine, and wonderful story. Thank you.
Thank you very much for “Lıttle Bee”. I read it and I loved it. It was very nice story. Yes I will not forget Little Bee after read it….good luck…!
I finished Little Bee last night, and did what I almost never do. I read all the material until the pages were blank and thought about the questions and answers. This book is amazing. I’m so thankful I bought it and looked at the world through Bee’s eyes for three days. Wow. I’ve always been one who notices all the Mexican refugees we have here in Louisiana, and I’ve never been fearful of a single person. They are the same as me, just trying to live until we die. Just trying to make it through the world on any given day. Thank you for the book, so full of important information about the planet we live on.
I have always found it difficult to find a book that I feel compelled to stick with, certainly books that I absolutely love and cannot put down are few and far between. I found it more than easy to stay up all night with Little Bee, I hate to have just now finished the last lines. Little Bee is an involving story that had me feeling each changing emotion and atmosphere seamlessly from page to page. Until I saw the portrait on the back jacket I assumed Chris Cleave was a woman and mother because of his true to life portrayal of his female and child characters. I recommend this book to any reader who wishes to be reminded what it means to feel truly human.
I live in places like this and have never found them written about so perfectly.
I hope your dedication, empathy and insight does not stop here.
I LOVED this book and I enjoyed every moment discovering the truth of little bee page after page. I could not put it down and I absolutely LOVE the characters of this book. This wonderful piece of writing and it has made me realize a lot of things–very important things. Thank you so much.
LOVED IT!!! Couldn’t put it down. But, did Sarah save little Bee?
I love that there was always something exciting going on.
For the past few years, I have felt numb and I have felt as if my heart has turned cold. I am only fifteen years old and reading this book was an amazing experience for me. My heart began to ache for Little Bee and I was feeling something – I was actually feeling something. Thank you so much for a wonderful book; it has given me so much hope and sympathy.
On a farm in North Carolina USA. Just finished Little Bee whilst on a 6wk stress leave from my job and my life, in general. Deciding wether or not to return…thanks for the answer. Beautiful story.
I absolutely loved this book. Once I started it, I couldn’t put it down. I finished it this morning, and have thought about Little Bee, Sarah and Andrew all day! I loved the way you would drop hints or make a reference about something, then you actually came back to that reference or hint to bring it full circle. Sarah is a great character. She has her flaws, like the rest of us, and she seemed so real and identifiable, and so honest. I kept thinking of how we treat immigrants here in America-what we take from them, how we use them and how they are viewed. It’d be great if this book were required reading in high school and colleges. It would most definitely increase awareness and understanding of the immigration issue, which has recently heated up with Arizona’s new law. I loved Little Bee. she used what she had available to help her survive, even if (especially) all that she had were her thoughts, memories or stories that she made up of her sister in her minds eye to get through. Most of all, I loved how the story was not “told” and how, rather, it unfolded, in layers, and with two viewpoints. A very insightful, compassionate book.
Chris – I just finished reading Little Bee I need to know what happened to her! The ending was so undefined for me. I know many authors like to leave it in the hands of the reader. I choose to believe that the soldiers did not kill her and she and Sarah made a life together. Please can you give me some insight to my thoughts?
Thank you for giving voice to another of the small stories that make up the enormous story of human rights violations. As a feminist, mother, artist, therapist and humanist, I must say that this story exemplifies my deep belief that all of our actions have deep meaning and we must be constantly cognizant of our action’s implications as individuals and as nations. Whatever fictions were employed in the writing of this novel are overpowered by the reality of the everyday atrocities , small and enormous that we allow, overlook, forget, legislate, justify, and grieve in relation to our fellow humans. Beautiful and horrible.
Thank you so much for this gem of a book. I was born and raised in New York and have been fascinated with refugee/immigration issues since my childhood. Many years ago I saw an excellent play by Chaikin, Tourists and Refugees (LaMama Theater, NY) . Keep up the good work. Would love to hear you speak in New York. All the best.
This story moves my soul. I have just read it and can’t stop thinking aobut it.
Specifically, what about when the time the men came suddenly on the beach? There were a group of them and there was the leader with the deep wound in his neck. He said he was not a savage. I wonder did he have to have an “offering” (Anderw’s finger) in order to keep his status with the rest of the men. When Little Bee’s sister was being murdered, is that why he went into the ocean – to kill himself?
Also, what about when on the beach Andrew said, “THis is not my / our affair” – then later we have the time at the gas station when Sarah is putting gas into her car and Little Bee thinks she can almost hear ther family’s screams with each drop of oil (not my affair?).
Then when Little Bee is on the river bank for a day of holiday and she has called the police to find Charlie. When Little Bee asks what it means to belong, she is told, “You don’t belong here – You are not British and don’t understand our values- (still not our affair)?
Did Lawrence intentionally tell Little Bee to phone the police when Charlie was missing, betting that she would do it to protect Charlie – thus sacraficing herself for his safety?
Anyway, I live in Fresno CA and would read this story again with a book group. I feel like I need to reflect with others. I would like a kind of book group that meets in someone’s home – could be mine (also with people who actually read the book). Any ideas?
There should be a third section in book stores that simply says, “Reality.” This is where “Little Bee” should be found. In this age of such advanced techinical devices, we are still sadly negative in the “Human Connection.” Not since I read “A Long Way Gone, Memoirs of a Boy Soldier” by Ishmael Beah, have I been so moved by a story. “Little Bee” isn’t fiction unless you are totally uninformed about the current world we live in.
Mr. Cleve, Sorry, even though I found the story of Little Bee enthralling, I found Charlie very annoying. I was an elementary school teacher, and have two daughters. In my opinion, a normal four year old would not talk the way Charlie did unless he had very poor modeling. Charlie should have had excellent modeling with Sarah and Andrew as parents.
I am so moved by the story of Little Bee……I live in the US and did not know of the oil wars in Nigeria…..I do know that Little Bee, Nkiruka, Charile and Sarah are all survivors…..they all have a story….Little Bee is a beautiful, kind and caring human being who truly understands the meaning of life….I am sure there are miillions of Little Bees drifting around throughout the world….fearful and running….I hope this book bings awarenss to more people and creates some more “human understanding, appreciation and kindness” into the world. Thank you for sharing and I look forward to more.
As a resident of Texas, I am fascinated with the subject of refugees and the “business” of incarcerating them. I see the symbolic meaning in your choice of ending LITTLE BEE, but I must say that I am left a bit empty. Indeed, Bee does deserve to live a full, safe, and happy life, but don’t we all? Although I understand, I think, your leaving the reader with as many questions as answers, but the bereft feeling I still harbor (three days after finishing the book) is difficult to shake. Thank you for touching so many people in such a profound way. I hope that your lovely story ripples far into the future!
Mr. Cleave – I can not stop thinking about Little Bee. What became of her and how strong she had to be. I was amazed by your ability to find the voice of a 16 year old Nigerian girl and make her so utterly believable. Not one sentence she spoke or thought sounded forced or fake. Just beautifully done. A wonderful book. Little Bee broke my heart.
Brilliant. The voices spoke to the reader’s soul. I am not disturbed by the ending any more than by the entire reality of our world. Each decision we make has consequences and affects others – we are really not separate, are we? As Bee said, there really isn’t a “them”. Brilliant, Mr Cleave, and lasting.
The juxtaposition of children playing in a kitchen and pretending to be in the jungle and children playing in a’ jungle and pretending to be in a kitchen was breathtaking.
I haven’t read this yet, but I want to so bad!
hi mr cleave, i’m writing from TÜRKİYE. library journal is right:it is the second book which effected me after the kite runner.i read it while i was studing an important exam for my life nd have finished yet. i’m still shocked nd i dunno wht should i feel. thnks for everybody who did anythng for ths book.
LOVE YOUR BOOK. If it is made into a movie, I have this image in my mind of the ending, where Sarah, Lawrence, and Charlie are running to catch Little Bee on the plane, with the song, Dog Days Are Over by Florence + The Machine. It gives me goosebumps when I hear the song, and I can only think of your story when I hear the song. You are an amazing writer and storyteller. Thank you for writing Little Bee.
Güzel kitapti. Olayların gerçek olabilme ihtimali ise üzücü! Okuma fırsatı bulduğum için mutluyum.
I loved the book, the ending left me so confused, What happened to Little Bee & Sarah?
Mr. Cleave…this is one of the best books I have read in a long long time and I think it will become a classic, a book that people will continue to read and be moved by. I laughed, I cried….I was frustrated and I was angry. Books are only as good as the emotions they evoke and you have written an amazing story. Thank you for giving this book to us.
This book is absolutely touching. It evoked so many emotions within me: horror, anger, happiness, and sadness. It is truly a special story. BRAVO, Mr. Cleave; I believe you have written one of the most unique books ever.
I read Little Bee, you write beautifully. I thought the end was not what I expected. I knew the end would be bad for Sarah, Little Bee and Larwence. The child Charlie, did Sarah really love him? Or was he a reminder of her bad choices in life? Little Bee was a survivor, and that was great. She was the best character in the book. I think she loved Charlie more than his Mom. You never really explained,truly how Sarah felt when Bee told her about how Andrew died. To me it was was an important part of the book, and you didn’t explain it well. I did like the book. The end is very frustrating, are you going to write a second book about it? There was no closure for me.
Amazing, captivating and inspiring. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I absolutely love it.
Suggested your book for my book club. We will be meeting tomorrow to discuss. I relish these comments as sometimes it’s hard to focus on the book without getting into current politics – love the discussion questions at the end.
Just finished the book. My eyes are puffy from tears. You have written something so powerful and yet easy to read about issues that are light years from easy. A triumph. Thanks for pushing through, doing your homework and giving such rich voices to these fictional people. May we all save our own Little Bee.
Jumping from one character to another and with so many details, I really enjoyed your book. But for me, the most inspiring part of the book was your description about the balance of modern marriages and the dramatic disappointment moments of women&male characters. Furthermore, I’m impressed to listen to a man who describe us so real (as a woman, 39). Congratulations from Istanbul!
this book just makes me speechless. well done, chris! it keeps buzzing in my head (now its hive).
I’ve never read any of your work before. Little Bee was given to me by a friend/neighbor who knows my taste in literature. So I thought! Like many readers, once it was in my hands, I could barely put it down. This was nothing at all like type of book I would ever pick up on my own. I am so grateful to my friend to sharing this wonderful write with me. I can’t wait to read Incendiary next and look forward to future works by you. Thank you for all of the wonderful characters. Little Bee will stay with me for a very long time.
This book really changes many views of life, kept me thinking what goes arround the world, a place where u’ve never been and what people go through. Wonderful, i loved it, i have to brag about this book, it’s a book for everybody to read.
hei, wow what a wonderful book, i never wanted to put it down even for a second and i never wanted to end reading it. I remember sitting in the buss several times and seeing the poster of this book and it was like a sign that i had to get and read it. I enjoyed every chapter and got more curious and gats to seattle and enjoy this wonderful peace of work, i wish there was a continuation of it, just to know what happened with little Bee and the rest. i cant wait til the movie comes out, i guess i have to wait longer since i live in Norway:P but i loved it and please keep doing a good jobb. Planing to read the other book that u have written. Little Bee is a great book, and i will reccomend my friends to read it. WOW what a story, with tears, laughters and thoughts:D good work Chris.
I devoured this book in about 4 days. It was so painful, so hopeful. I threw the book down when things got to descriptive, but had to pick it up to find out what happened next. Your use of language was awesome. It was horribly sad and wonderfully hopeful. This moved me on so many levels. I also think it was great that I couldn’t tell you were not a woman in writing from their perspectives. I had no idea of what has been happening in Africa nor how refugees are being treated. Thank you so much for shedding light on these things. One of the BEST books I’ve read this year!
majestic work of art. you gave voice and life to the “country of refugees” that few know about
more stories need to be told. i have seen the border of the Us and Mexico… sharing stories is eye opening and can make a difference, or at least touch a heart
we need more compassion in this world, thank you Chris Cleave for caring
Your book is wonderfully written. I am not really a novel fan, but I would honestly say that I loved your book very much. It is indeed a very touching one. Though I am not so impressed of its ending (What happens to Sarah, Lil Bee and of course BATMAN), over all I rate the book high.
Thanks so much Chris
Might I ask the difference between the US edition and the UK edition?
This book was just incredible, it really gripped me from the first to last page…. wonderful story….
All I can say is thankyou Chris…
Thank you Chris for a wonderfully written book that made me laugh and cry, happy and sad, even angry at times. The emotions were overwhelming. The end leaves me craving for more!
THE BEST book i have read in many years! Thank you for communicating so wonderfully!
Thank you, Chris Cleave, for writing such a powerful and moving book and thank you, Caroline James, for posting the “women for women international” link in your comment on June 7th. I too finished Little Bee (2 nights ago) with that sense of having to do something…After reading your post I went straight to their website, discovered an amazing organization doing something incredibly important for women whose lives, like Little Bee’s, have been torn apart by violence and war, and become a monthly donor. It’s not a huge thing…But at least it is something.
Like many other people posting comments here, I am distressed by the ending of the book…I actually stumbled upon this website in a quest to find out what people were making of it, and hoping to find some hope, somewhere or somehow, for Little Bee where we left her on that beach. Little Bee no longer feels like a fictional character to me…I feel like I have to know what happens next, even if I equally dread what that might be.
I am in awe of Little Bee. Once it was in my hands, it was difficult to set down, even if only for a moment. It’s been a while since I have read a book quite like yours. It touched me, it opened up eyes, it made me remember, and it gave me hope. You sew your words so perfectly; I felt like I was on the beach with Little Bee, like I was standing in Sarah’s garden, like I saw Batman cry with my own eyes. Thank you for a beautifully written novel. They don’t come along everyday….
Help! I need closure. What happened to Sara and Little Bee……….I Loved the characters and hope we will hear more about them.
Your book was very touching
I have never read a fiction book with so much details
I totally felt what Sarah and Little Bee were thinking-I felt as if I were one of them.
I just wanted to thank you for writing this book…it changed my view on life
Hey Chris, I picked up your book yesterday in the Birmingham Alabama airport…and dove into it on my flight first to Chicago…then on to San Francisco…and finished it just as the wheels touched ground…
This was such a moving book…and it broke my heart, and made me cry sitting terribly close to complete strangers…made me hold back my sobs…made me mad…and laugh…and sad…and motivated to DO SOMETHING!!!
I must say that if anyone out there is also motivated to do something, but doesn’t know where to start…check out Women for Women international ( http://www.womenforwomen.org/). They help women from Nigera, the Congo…and all the other…”Then the men came” countries, start their own businesses. So far, I have helped 3 women from Africa start to support their families as enterpreneurs… give a woman a goat…and she will make milk, cheese…and more goats to sell…and there you go. I just did something. So…my heart can cry a little less…knowing that as I sit here in my uber comfortable completely FREE existance, and “The men are coming..” somewhere else…I can say a prayer, write a little check, send her my picture, and I don’t have to cut off my middle finger to save her life. But I would. Really.
thanks for being such a wonderful writer. You ROCK. C
i almost read this book,just left few page.i love their relationship in story.it’s very touched me..from korea 😉
Thank you for your extraordinary book. My husband flew through it, and I did the same. It has moved me like nothing I have read before, and inspired me to live a more gratitude filled life. Thank you for your tremendous honesty and courage in bringing Little Bee’s story to us. I am so saddened to think that there are millions of precious Little Bees all around the world right at this moment, but inspired to take action in some small way. Life, despite everything, is still so beautiful. I can’t wait to pass my copy on to many, many loved ones. We must take care of each other.
Thanks for the good read. I really enjoyed it! I don’t usually comment on blogs but this one really was interesting. I will bookmark for later.
I am still not entirely sure what happened to Little Bee at the end of the story. I would like to think she was not killed by the soldiers. She was
an extraordinary character. Mr. Cleave can you clarify for me the ending; surely it could not have ended hopelessly.
I absolutely loved Little Bee. I could not put it down…it was such a thrilling read. I can only think of a few authors who hold my attention in such a gripping way. Hats off to Chris Cleave.
kitap harika bittiği zaman bile tekrar okumak istedim çok teşekkürler güzel ve anlamlı bir şekilde yazılmışşş
I´a South african living in Denmark.
I have just finished reading your book, oh man …I´ve never cried so mutch in a long time. I do not no what to say I just felt like doing some thing. The sad part about Little Bee story is, it is happening now
I too could not put this book down and must say I did not realize til the end that it was written by a man – read it as an ebook, therefore no cover to remind me of the author’s name – boy did you nail the women’s voices!!!!! However, I concur with an earlier commenter that I was very very very disturbed by the ending – after investing so much in Little Bee, tell me she is certainly going to be murdered…(hope no one is reading this who hasn’t finished the book) – I’d love you to tell me it ain’t so, but that’s for sure the way I read it…..
I just finished your book. At first I was so disappointed in the ending…with not knowing what happens next. But, in truth, we do know what happens. I have decided that I loved the ending because it showed that Little Bee was able to go to her ending in peace and without the fear that haunted her throughout the whole book. This book was so eye-opening for me. I cry for the people living these lives and hope that, if faced with the same choice, I would have the strength to respond the way Sarah did.
Thank you for writing this beautiful, beautiful book. There are so many things to say about it, so many layers and really lovely aspects to it. Unfortunately, I don’t have a reading group to discuss it with, so I am taking a moment to share some thoughts here. I have at the same time been reading Half the Sky co-written by Nicholas Kristoff and there are so many parallels, I think. At any rate, what I think is most lovely about the story, beyond your style, is that like Kristoff you give the readers an example of what fortunate people can do to change the lives of unfortunate people, and in the process, make their own lives fulfilling.
I have read and fascinated. Words to describe my feelings will remain meaningless. Thank you for writing such a fascinating work..Im sory My English is bad but I want to thank
This is one of the best books I ever read. I too have my very own fictional character at home, my 4 yr old daughter Sophia a.k.a. Sleeping Beauty or Little Mermaid depending on the day!! Thank you!!
I LEFT OUT THE WORD SEQUEL IN MY COMMENT…..PLEASE LET US KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!
I read it for Diane Rehm’s Readers Review… waiting for the third of Steig Larsson’s book to come. Needless to say I had to finish Little Bee FIRST! PLEASE a !!! I’m not ready to say goodby to Sarah and Udo! I don’t think even Lisbeth Salander will make me forget about them!!!!
I’m from Turkey. Your book was great.If you continue to read books
I too loved and hated the book! I was horrified in some parts, crying in some parts and smiling with Batman! I was confused and disappointed in the ending! What happened to Sarah? What happened to Little Bee? Anyone else confused?
Bonjour M. Cleave,
Bravo, cent fois bravo pour “Et les hommes sont venus”.
J’en ai parlé ici:
This was a magnificent work. I always sound the misogynist when I speak my mind about women characters in books, but I really think that modern women characters are best written about by men. Wally Lamb and Chris Cleave are two powerful examples. There is a distance with male writers which allows the characters to “come clean” about their motives and their desires. Women writers have a tendency to feel they have to qualify their statements through a feminist filter. The male characters in LITTLE BEE are so realistic, too. Neither is too “perfect”; neither has an unrealistic “cross to bear.” This creates a suspense that is intriguing all on its own: Was there an unmentioned reason that the husband killed himself? Will the lover “turn in” Little Bee. Is it wise for his mother to leave Batman alone with Little Bee? Imperfect characters mean real characters and real characters make for more than a light read. Congratulations, Mr. Cleave, on such a wonderfully written novel that will withstand many years.
I am about to start teaching your novel to my Grade 12 University English class…I loved it, and I’m very grateful for all the additional websites and resources attached to your home page. Canada is a long way from Nigeria, but my colleagues and I hope our students will profit from learning Little Bee’s story.
I loved, loved, loved the book. I didn’t want the story to end! I finished half the book in one sitting and had to use all my self restraint to not read the entire book in one sitting.
Of Little Bee…the juxtapositions are too much! I hated it, I loved it, I did laugh, I did cry, I am horrified and I am happy. I had to read the last few chapters again to be certain of what I was reading and I am STILL thinking about it. Mr. Cleave, it is beautiful and it is horrible all at the same time.
This is an excellent and incredible book. And it attracts attention to the culturel and social points.
Thank you for your writing and thank you your sensibiltiy..
This is a extroidinary book. i laughed i cried, symphatized and understood, Cleave is an amazing writer . He portrayes the narrator with such vigor and you just want to give the book to evryone you know even people who dont generally read because they will want to read books after this one.
My daughter and I disagree about the ending of the book. I thought the soldiers took her to imprison her. She thinks the soldiers shot Little Bee. Please inform me as to your intent. If she was imprisoned please write the sequel to let me know if Sarah pursues her book and saves Little Bee.
I, too, want to see a sequel. I cannot bear thinking of what may have followed the ending. It is haunting me.
This was a great book….well written, surely made me feel like I was there….sad, but uplifting and it taught that you need to look out for eachother no matter what the situation is….we are all in this together……I have passed it on to someone else to enjoy!!!!!
Tremendously well-written. Little Bee is an unforgettable character…and, although she is fictional, it can be hoped that she will inspire people in all cultures to “lift a finger” to help their fellow man.
LITTLE BEE caught my heart from the beginning. I’ve recommended it to everyone I know. At the same time, I have to say that I’m just as caught up right now in Chris Cleave’s first book, INCENDIARY. The entire book is a mother’s letter to Osama Bin Laden after her husband and son are killed in a terrorist explosion while at the soccer game.
I hope there’s another book emerging from Chris’ mind right now. This young man is exceptionally talented.
ı from turkey.thıs book very ınteresting.ı love chrıs cleav.and thıs book very enjoy:)
Little Bee is that rare, exquisite find that will lift you off your feet and take you away even before you know you’ve been moved. It is an adventure. It leaves you wanting more. I dare not say anything else, because as the inside jacket says, it is how the story unfolds where the real magic lies.
Unfortunately, in order to convince a friend of mine to read it, I agreed to read The Host by Stephanie Meyer. That’s how much I loved Little Bee; I’m willing to push back my reading of Jane Eyre and endure the writing of the author who brought us the horribly written Twilight Saga.
Go read Little Bee. Believe me, it will change you.
I have bought “Little Bee” and have read it. It is wonderful, exciting and emotional. Thanks for this wonderful book Chris!
As a student in high school I will have to admit I was not looking for a book quite like this one. I was looking for something a little more, happy. Reading the back pulled me right away. I knew that it wasn’t going to be cheerful, but I wanted to know so badly what the big choice was that little bee and Sara had to make. Reading the book was an adventure in it’s self. I loved it right away adn could not put it down; I would read it every chance that I got just to learn more. There are no words worthy enough to explain this book, I do recomend it to anyone!
Simply amazing my man. I’ll be telling everyone I know they should do themselves a favor and read this book, their lives will be better for it.
This book was so beautiful I just love your style of writing. Once I began reading, I just could not put it down. I do have to ask though, was that really the end of the story? I am waiting for a second book because there really was no conclusion in this book, or at least no closure. I would like to know what happened next with all of the characters, it just seemed so open ended. Do you plan to write a follow up book to this story? If you do, I would love to read it.
I .bought ”the little bee” last week and I finished.Despite It wasn’t very wonderfull ıt was exciting….
a life with realites,love,frendship and peace,when you read you will feel all of these at same time,and think “what for all these death,who will win at last!?”surely must read.thank you dear writer,thank you for your good heart!
The title of your book, in french, is “and then the men came”, that’s why I’ve looked at it and bought it. I just have something to say : I thought you were a woman, because you’re writing is very sensitive, and full of emotions. If, sometimes, you have doubts about you talent, please don’t.
(Sorry if there are mistakes… I’m french…)
Thanx for Little Bee (The Other Hand) from Turkey…from Kayseri,Chris !!!
I just finished your novel…it was wanderful really but my feelings are very complex and sensitive now;and also the book finished okey.But somethings are still continue now.And ı ı have many unanswered questions… so ın my opinion ” Little Bee ” needs ” Little Bee 2 ” for answering that problems.
THANK YOU SO MUCH AGAIN,THANK YOU,CHRIS.
Little Bee overpowed me. Will now buy anything you write. Thank you!
I have read many, many good books in my half-lifetime — and some great ones. Little Bee is a great one. It literally took my breath away. I was riveted by her story and her soulful, simple wisdom. Her character will linger with me.
The second I finished “Little Bee” I had to put it down and just think. All the characters raced through my mind and their stories. Five minutes later I found myself sobbing. What an amazing book and an even more beautiful story. Your writing has touched me. Thank you.
I’m an ex pat andI teach fiction writing in L.A. “The themes of classic drama and fiction were my only schools.”
Sorry pal I am a dissenter.
Enough plot holes to drive a truck thru
But you’re one hellova beautiful (Though careless) writer.
“And who am I among so many?”
If you wanna’ check my opinion — see attached notes.
Irrespective, I look forward to reading anything and everything you write.
Thanks Alan – received & understood. Consider me chastened.
I really liked reading “Little Bee” until the very end – I felt like it left me hanging – what happens to Little Bee? do the soldiers take her? I’m sure I’m supposed to figure it out but I can’t – help
hi chris, congratulations on a book that is both a work of art and a very telling social commentary. Your book had very many resonances for me. My son (who has aspergers syndrome) has spent considerable time on the plight of various minorities( recently it’s university amnesty international)…i viewed his preoccupations as another one of his phases…on reflection, following reading your book, I feel he has “got there” before me! The world is indeed a small place, and the lifting of one finger (as a help or a f*** you!) can have far reaching consequences. Little Bee is someone who I cherish, Sarah and Andrew I identify with readily. Its not often I feel so totally involved in a story…Forget the “cloying2 and other negative comments , this is sterling work which will hopefully have a transforming effect for others. Thank you!
Lıttle bee ı lıke.ı’m from turkey.thıs ıs a book congratulation.
I am trying to find questions for the book LITTLE BEE for my book club. Does anyone have a sight I can go to and find some questions?????
Hi Pat – thanks for your comment. I will get hold of the book club guide and get it online here ASAP. Thanks! Chris
Pat – my publisher’s excellent book club questions for LITTLE BEE are at http://bit.ly/7tR5by
Hope this helps. Will get the Qs onto this site soonest. Many thanks. Chris.
everything i thought i knew to be true about people and good and evil, and happy endings, collides in this book. there were times i had to put it down because the story was so unrelenting. powerful. haunting.
I love this book! I will make this book a bestseller in Norway!
Dear Mr Cleave,
My thanks to you for writing such a remarkable book. Beautiful, moving, funny, sad, poignant, gripping and so much more Are you planning to adapt it for television or cinema?
Hi Phil – thank you, I’m very happy you enjoyed it. Yes, it will be made into a movie by BBC Films. Details here: http://bit.ly/1R6Nzx
I have read The Other Hand, followed by Little Bee and Incendiary. I couldn’t stop reading them, and have told my friends they must buy and read them too. I won’t lend the books, I’m afraid I won’t get them back. Did I enjoy them? Enjoy is the wrong word, but I was totally immersed in them, and was desparate to find out howe they ended.
One question, why are they all written from a woman’s point of view? It must be difficult, but you did it perfectly.
I just spent most of my Thanksgiving reading your book. It is an incredibly moving piece and is beautifully written. The ending made me cry. Picturing batman running with the Nigerian children on the beach (while Little Bee watches on) is both a heart wrenching and hopeful passage. Continue to do what you do, speak to our hearts and minds with your wonderful words.
I’m about half way through “The Other Hand” aka “Little Bee” and am learning a lot about the way Africans and British people think and see things around them. I lived in West Africa for 19 years. I wish I could have read this book 20 years ago.
I just finished Little Bee. I started it yesterday and couldn’t put it down. I read/slept/read/slept throughout the night. Your writing is incredible and the story you tell, utterly convicting. Now I will be asking myself, “What can I do?” And I will be looking for ways to help.
Just a note to say how much I enjoyed reading ‘The Other Hand’. Briliiantly written, this story is not only a wonderful entertainment but it makes one realise that Asylum Seekers are real people with real needs and not comparable to wreckage washed up on our shores to be disposed of as if they were a blight upon our society.
Amazing piece of writing. Always delighted when I come across a book that has the power to motivate me to find out more about topics I had previously only been passively aware of. ‘The Other Hand’ is educational, emotional and superbly written.
Wonderful novel. Absolute great. But one thing I do not understand. As you mentioned before you have pretty smart readers. So why do you put an image of a young boy without clothes on the cover of your book. Your smart readers know this boy is there with a reason. From page one I was waiting for the scene with the boy on the beach. Which actually gives a way the ending of you novel! What a waste! Please switch to the ‘Little Bee’ cover and dont use the other one for the reprints to come.
Many thanks from Amsterdam – Holland,
I just finished Little Bee Chris and I thank you for writing it. What a powerful story you have told under the guise of fiction. I’ve written about it in my blog post today hoping those who read it will be intrigued enough to go and find your marvelous work. I’d heard nothing about your novel, however the inside jacket so fascinated me I had to take you home from the library. I am glad yours was the first of my stack to be read. I applaud your efforts to give this subject a face and name.
I took three books on holiday and wanted to read this one three times. Superb. Beautiful writing of an astonishing story – thank you for writing it.
thank you for a powerful reading experience in Little Bee.
you’ve blended life messages of shallow and deep proportions seamlessly.
one laughs, cries and begs for a deeper understanding of refugee struggles, along with our own ‘trivial’ ones.
bless you mr. cleave.
dear Mr. Cleaver,
I just finished your amazing “Little Bee”…I don’t know if it’s the right expression in English, “unbelievably deep, deeply believable”… I’d like to make a present. is it translated in Italian too?
Enjoyed your book thoroughly. We’re (USA)treating our undocumenteds the same way. Have recommended Little Bee to many friends who will be receptive to the message in it as well as appreciative of the beauty of the language. I loved Little Bee’s take on the developed world. You are a gifted writer. I hope your little ones and wife are well and that you get enough sleep to write some more.
hi from trudy on the mornington penninsula in australia…watched chris around 4am on the overnite american news channel….can’t wait to read the book, spending the day trying to hunt in down in and around melbourne
I couldn’t put Little Bee down and spent last Saturday reading it as my children destroyed the house and my husband resigned himself to the fact that I had to be “LEFT ALONE” until the very end. But darn you, Mr. Cleave! I haven’t slept since. Your absolutely perfect but terribly tragic ending has left me weeping and has kept me up at night, fretting about about all the Little Bees in this world. And that is exactly as it should be. Bravo! A perfect book.
Chris, your book was incredible. I work with refugees in Australia – thank you for illustrating their plight so poignantly.
I love books that make me rethink my views on things and this one made me ashamed that I have never questioned what happens to asylum seekers when they arrive in the UK illegally and are detained. Thank you for a great read and for opening my eyes.
I cried all the way through this book. I work with asylum seekers here in Ireland, especially one mother from Nigeria who is about to be deported with her two young children who have known no other home only Ireland. I know that this woman’s life is in danger as she has been fighting to bring awareness of FGM and the Nigerian authorities will arrest her as soon as she is on Nigerian soil.
This story highlights so well the reality of fear that pervades the asylum process and the inhumanity of our oblivion.
This book is excellent, so light and dark at the same time. The voice of Little Bee is so compelling and so well done; it will stay with me. My sincere congratulations to Chris Cleave on writing such a fine book.
I suggest people NOT read the ‘Independent’ review linked to above. It’s a good review but it gives away much of the plot.