Skip to main content
PBS logo

Book Reviews of Little Bee (aka The Other Hand)

Little Bee (aka The Other Hand)
Little Bee - aka The Other Hand
Author: Chris Cleave
ISBN-13: 9781416589648
ISBN-10: 1416589643
Publication Date: 2/2/2010
Pages: 271
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.

3.5 stars, based on 847 ratings
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

105 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

Gr8Smokies avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 98 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 37
I read the blurb on the back of the book, and I expected some transcendent event that "unfolded" the "magic of the story".

Not so much. The book was an overwrought, overly introspective examination of Africa and the global response to the problems there.

The story centers around a character named Little Bee, who is from Nigeria. She and her sister are caught in a horrific series of events on a beach that change the trajectory of their lives. Also on the beach that day is a British couple trying to save their marriage. Each person is changed by the goings on at the beach and the rest of the story consists of each character dealing with that horrific event.

There are some memorable quotes in the book and some insightful internal dialogue from the characters, but I waited in vain for magic that never came. About 2/3 of the way through, I was ready to leave these characters behind. It was not a horrible book, but not an excellent one either.

If you would like to read an excellent book about Africa, go get "What is the What".
BewitchedByBooks avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on
Helpful Score: 36
This book is being pushed EVERYWHERE. Amazon, Borders, etc, etc. So I picked it up. Was immediately suspicious of the "secretive non-plot blurb" on the back and when my gut rang it's warning bell, I should have heeded it.

This book was a train wreck that I just couldn't not look away from. It was sad, demoralizing, horrific and depressing. I kept waiting for the tide to turn and for things to start to lighten. I pushed through because I felt I needed to be reminded of the atrocities that happen all around us, all the time.

As a piece of literature it was clunky and stilted and several parts unbelievable (and I'm not talking about the atrocities...I'm talking about the "normal" life happenings).

If you enjoy books that are about social injustices, death and globalization then by all means, pick this one up. If that's not your cup of tea, stay far, far away from Little Bee.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on
Helpful Score: 28
Many of the characters in this book annoyed me: Charlie and his pitiful speech patterns, Lawrence's flatness, and Sarah for being that uber-annoying my-son-can-do-no-wrong mommy on the playground who goes around being a victim in life. Little Bee was the best character, and there were some surprises to her persona.

Okay, so you learn in creative writing class about adding some foreshadowing, but there should be a limit. You shouldn't allude to something a million times before you actually tell about it, or you risk having your readers fill in the blanks and become bored. That's what this book did for me about the incident in Nigeria. Of course, we all realized what had happened to Sarah and Little Bee before it was revealed halfway through the book.

The book jacket promises some kind of magical feeling will come over you when you read it and that you'll generally become a better person. I guess that happened when I wrapped it up and sent it to another reader!
Claudielou avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 77 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 13
If you're just feeling much too chipper, this is the book for you. This book tells the tale of horrific fear torture in Nigeria, and the self-centered lives of the young elite in London. Every single man in the book is evil, and there is no redemption for a young Nigerian girl who escapes to London. The cover blurb promises something of a happy ending, but it isn't to be found unless you call one child sacrificing herself for another, "happy". If something good starts to happen for this poor girl, you can bet that the next page will contain another horror for her. This is a very depressing book. Be sure to take your anti-depressant before reading.
spiritedbabe59 avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 106 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 8
OK, I have to admit I was lured in by the intriguing cover and the hype...and yet as I was paying at the register I had a nagging feeling that I should put it back... that I'm usually disappointed with many of the books that get so much focus from vendors. So at least I wasn't disappointed in that regard! I do have to say though that I liked Cleave's ability to distinguish Sarah and Little Bee - and not just because their storytelling voice was every other chapter! He captured a different rhythm and cadence to their voices and I knew easily who was speaking. And I liked Little Bee immensely. I've had a 4 year old, and while he wore odd clothes on a regular basis - he didn't ALWAYS speak incorrectly! Lawrence and Sarah both left me bored, annoyed, blah. Overall a huge disappointment.
Bernelli avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 266 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 8
A fictitious story woven around real events. This story personalizes the problems small villages in Africa are experiencing because they are located overtop of valuable oil resources. Rather than seeing the problem from 10,000 feet, the story is brought up close and personal through Little Bee's horrifying experience and her desperate search for hope. Good story - I could not put it down.
mahbaar avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 111 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
I loved this book. It's the most powerful book I've read since "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan". I liked the way the author described what Sarah and Little Bee saw, and was effective in giving each character an effective narrative. I was pulled in from the very beginning, and intrigued by where the story might go. For me, the fact that I had not seen any spoilers about the subject matter was definitely a contributing factor to my enjoyment of this book. Not a happy or joyful book, but effective, powerful and well-written. Best I've read this year so far!
esjro avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 899 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
Little Bee tells the stories of two women from different parts of the world whose lives intersect with startling consequences. The story is told in chapters which alternate between the womens' points of view. Author Chris Cleave deserves credit for giving each character such a distinctive and believable voice.

Little Bee is simultaneously heartbreaking and uplifting. Just read it.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 100 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
I finished this book a week ago. I'm still thinking about it, hence, the 3 stars. The subject is painful. The writing is masterful. Two narrators and numerous flashbacks were not confusing. It's not a book that everyone would enjoy, but sometimes we all should read a book that deeply moves us.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 57 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
I thought this tragic story was beautifully written.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on
Helpful Score: 3
I had to wait a while for this book and so I fully intended to take my time enjoying it. Unfortunately (?) I found it quite difficult to put the book down and finished it in one day. Bummer!!! What a magnificent story!!!
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 120 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
After all the hoopla, I cannot say I was impressed with this book. My disbelief factor rose and rose and rose as I read this book. I found that the author's plotting - here is an African girl in an immigrant detention center but we don't know how she got there; here is a privileged English woman who is unhappy with her life who is somehow linked to the African girl but we don't know how; a journalist kills himself but we don't know why; then we find out how they are linked but we still don't get the whole story - the author slowly peels away another layer every so often, but this slow-reveal technique did not impress me - it just annoyed me. Give me the whole story and let me process it as a reader. Don't be so cutesy about it. I could understand if this slow-reveal made me change my opinion of the characters as the reveal progressed, but it didn't. I disliked Sarah at the beginnning and I was only slightly more fond of her by the end; I loved Little Bee immediately and nothing that was revealed changed my feelings for her; Lawrence was a shit from the minute he appeared on the page and nothing that happened made me like him, even a little; and Andrew was pathetic throughout and his position as victim never changed as the facts were revealed. So if an auther is not trying to change the reader's opinion of the character over time, why the slow-reveal of the facts?

SPOILER ALERT: I found the last several chapters to be ridiculous. I could not accept anything that was happening: (1) The British government holds Little Bee for two years in an immigrant detention center, but sends her back to Nigeria within a week after the South Bank outing incident. (2) Sarah finds her "center" as a mother after the South Bank outing incident, but then brings Charlie with her to Africa, putting him in danger while she undertakes risky research for a political expose. (3) Little Bee comments on how she suddenly feels so comfortable on the South Bank as she is surrounded by all races and nationalities so that she does not stick out as an outsider, but then after they find Charlie, when she could have just blended in at the outskirts of the crowd, she seems to be randomly picked up by policeman. This was the most unbelievable moment in a book full of unbelievable moments. (4) Of all the evil things that the Nigerian soldiers could choose to do, including arresting Sarah which seems the most obvious, shooting at a four-yeart-old English child on a public beach is the thing that they decide to do. Why do they care so much about arresting Little Bee? Isn't Sarah the obvious troublemaker? I suppose it just makes for a better ending - but not a believable ending.

Finally - in the book club extras at the back of my edition, there is a discussion by the author of the quote that opens the novel, which contains an actual typo found in the immigrant textbook given by the UK to immigrants studying for the citizenship test. He says, "...if a refugee is prepared to walk away from a regime that has imprisoned and tortured her...we should at least be prepared to have that textbook professionally copyedited." What?!! Does Mr. Cleave really think that an individual who has escaped death and flees to a country where they do not face torture and death would actually care if the textbook they are given to study from has typos? I could understand Sarah suffering from this type of skewed priorities, but the author?!!! Hmmmmmmm.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Let me say that I have never read a book faster than this... and I'm dyslexic! The book was disturbing, but opened my eyes to events in the world I was completely ignorant about. Even though this book is fiction, it inspired me to read non-fiction books on the main topic. Wow!
tropikgal avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 2 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Very interesting read. Even though story started out a bit slowly I could not put the book down, I had to find out what happened next.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 11 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This was well worth reading. A difficult and heartbreaking journey in many ways for the characters, but also a journey in finding peace within yourself no matter what your circumstances.
Kmarie avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 529 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
It's been weeks since I read this on my Kindle, and yet I still want to own it (so I ordered a copy from here, of course!). I am still a bit conflicted about how I feel about it. The blurb says it is hysterically funny. I didn't find it remotely funny at all! I have no idea to what they are referring!

It is superbly written, and I'd probably read anything this author wrote, but it is also depressing. The scene on the beach, while horrific, wasn't as bad as I imagined it would be because of all the lead-up to it. Was it terrible? YES. But the ending bothered me far more because I didn't expect what was coming.

I'd recommend you read this simply because it is a very well written piece of fiction, and knowing Little Bee is better than not having known her. But the other characters are not as endearing and not as interesting in my opinion, and in fact they are quite annoying. I could not STAND Charlie -- written to be "too cute" if you know what I mean.

Read it, but don't expect a magical work, or humor. Expect to be moved, and to have your heart broken over some of the things Little Bee has endured in her lifetime.
taaza avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 56 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Suspenseful, dark, different, at times touching and at times violent. A story of hope, morals, trust and survival. A Nigerian refugee shows up on the doorstep on a British couple whom she met on a beach in Nigeria years before. I was mesmerized by the story as the book progressed. You won't want to put this book down once you hooks you from page one.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 22 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Absolutely loved this book! Told thru this young Nigerian girls poetic narrative. You get to visualize parts of the western world thru her eyes. It is also about redemtion and courage. I didn't put it down untill I was done
flowerpot avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on
Helpful Score: 2
I found the end of the book implausable but I won't give it away. The English character was too self absorbed and did something I felt no mother would do in her right mind - maybe that is what I missed - she was not in a right mind.
greedyreader avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 22 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I read through this book very quickly --- it was hard for me to put down! I liked the way the author switched between the two main characters' view points. Having Little Bee as an unpredictable voice was enticing. The way she masked telling of extremely grave situations with her black/dry humour was excellent! All in all, Cleve helped to make sheltered readers more aware of horror of encroaching "civilization" by putting a face and personality on on tiny part of the world. He humanized aspects of terror that most of us in the free world benignly glance over. Cleve also placed behaviour in the free world under a microscope to enhance the little horrors we take for granted as being the norm, as being typical or expected.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 5 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Great story, learned a lot about illegal immigrants from Nigeria, and what they endured in their home country and in the UK once they arrived. Great eye opener! Must read!
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on
Helpful Score: 1
Fascinating, but highly unusual, slightly unbelievable story. The characters are colorful and Little Bee is tenacious and inspirational. The ending with the crescendo build is disappointing.
SuzO avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 65 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I've been wanting to read this book for awhile. If I thought it was going to be about bee keeping, I was disappointed. The riveting story held my interest from cover to cover. The bravery of the main characters is astounding. Narration of Little Bee's life with cultural and human misunderstandings, as well as mans inhumanity to man, were totally believeable.
angelb avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on
Helpful Score: 1
Excellent and well written story. The voice of Little Bee pulls you into a hard world, that she sees in such a beautiful light. A must read for all.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 2 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I truly enjoyed this book. Bought it at Phoenix airport on my way home and read it and finished it in Erie,PA. A bit predictable at times but otherwise a good read. Would recommend the book to anyone
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on
Helpful Score: 1
pretty good, dissapointing ending
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on
Helpful Score: 1
Like others have said, I also waited and waited for THE BIG SURPRISE.

Quite simply, it didn't exist. I don't understand why the book is hyped with this big ending secret...that doesn't exist.

I did not find the characters believable at all. Little Bee is a refugee who has only spent two years in a detention center in London, yet somehow she knows to ask if the little boy is allowed to watch TV before breakfaast? These little flaws drove me crazy. A Nigerian child refugee would have NO understanding of the daily life of the British, even if she somehow did read every British book while in the detention center. She was a child, for god's sake! Cute character in many ways...but completely not believable.

The boy Charlie also drove me crazy with the annyong way he spoke. It just got old. And it never made sense why Lawrence would have been so incredibly mean to Little Bee.

Don't waste your time. It's a quick, easy read, but the big pay-off is never there.
laceylosh avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 53 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I enjoy reading a novel when its written for different characters perspectives. "Little Bee" is a great example of the richness an author can add to a story by using this technique.

Ill admit, a few chapters into the story and I wasnt hooked. However, I dont easily give up on reading a book and as this was an assignment for my book club, I was determined to carry on.

Im so glad I did. The plot develops nicely after the first few chapters and keeps your interest the rest of the way through. I found myself identifying with the characters more and more as the story progressed, especially the husband character Andrew. I really didnt see where he was coming from for the longest time, and finally I began relating to him and his struggles.

The two women who are the main characters of this story are strong counterparts on whose shoulders this story stands. These feminine voices and written very convincingly from Chris Cleave, a male author. Each woman has a distinctive voice, thought pattern and role in the story. This is a moving and powerful read.
owlandtwig avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 30 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
The main character, Little Bee, is a work of art. Chris Cleave brings this clever, funny, brave little soul to life. Through her character we see the horrors of genecide & the shell-shocking uncertainty of being an illegal refugee. This main point of the story is so strong & powerful that it is really dissappointing that Cleave sabotages it with a plot that gets weaker & more unrealistic throughout the course of the novel. The characters of Sarah, Andrew & Charlie start out as strong and necessary but get increasingy weak and annoying. If Cleave had set out to write a short story instead of a novel, I think it would have had a much greater impact. As it is, I was moved & realize how great my life is when compared to the suffering that people like Little Bee have endured.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 379 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I wonder if I read the same book as those who gave it glowing reviews. Certainly the plight of people - especially children - in war-torn Africa is noteworthy and heart-rending; however, there were so many implausible coincidences and "plastic" characters in this book that it touched neither my heart nor my mind.
ARReader avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 38 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
My book club read this book, but a friend of mine said to read "Mister Pip" by Lloyd Jones along with "Little Bee" by Chris Cleave. The parallels of both books were intriguing! Both stories will stay with you for awhile and both of course, mention Dicken's "Great Expectations". Both of these books together enhance the story line of each book and the relevance that Dicken's still has in our world today.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 50 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This book was excellent. Little Bee is a Nigerian girl seeking asylum in Britain. It is told from her point of view and that of the woman she seeks to help her when she leaves the detention center after being held there for 2 years. Included is an interview with the author that adds dimension to the book. Highly recommended.
sheila663 avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 2 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Good characters. Some of Bee's observations were worth stopping to think over. Good story...but am I the only one who didn't like how it ended?

I think its a shame to imply on the cover that some magic will overtake you as you read. It just wasn't there for me.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 168 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I do think it's good that this book is so popular. Maybe it will bring more awareness to what is going on in terms of oil in undeveloped countries. Although this book is fiction, the atrocities it describes are quite real.

However, I had a lot of problems with this book. For one thing, there was this big lead up to "the event." This was pointless - I guessed what had happened (it wasn't difficult) by Chapter two. Second, the author repeats himself a lot. What can be said in 3 sentences, he says in 12. I suppose this was his way of building the suspense some more. However, like I said, it wasn't hard to guess what had happened.

Finally, I didn't feel as if I was hearing this story from a Nigerian woman. I felt very distant from the narrator - two women actually narrate it, but I felt most distant from the Nigerian woman. So, I got to researching the author. While the author is a journalist, he is a white man living in a developed country. Exactly what kind of personal knowledge and experience could a white man have when it comes to Africans? Most especially, African women? He has no personal experience with that, and this showed in the book. No matter how much research this man did, the fact remains is that, as a white male, he does not face what a Nigerian village woman does. He has no clue what that feels like. As I said, this was more than apparent in the novel.

My concern, also, is the author's motivation for writing such a novel. At first, I assumed it was because he wanted to bring more awareness to the developed world as to what happens in places like Nigeria. However, if that is the case, he had an entire pointless subplot within the novel that completely detracted from the very Serious issues at hand. I couldn't help but think that this author was using what happens in Nigeria to add sensationalism to his novel.

I only hope that this book inspires people to actually find novels by actual Nigerian authors - yes, they exist! So, I hope, at the very least, people will be encouraged to read Nigerian authors, buy their books, and hopefully make the publishing industry aware that people can read books by actual Nigerian authors.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Outstanding! Nothing prepares us for a story such as this - the decision of one harrowing moment in time, that has repercussions unimagined. Step outside your world of comfort and experience what is also real life for a woman.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on
Helpful Score: 1
This was one of the best books I've read in a long time. Halps you understand a little more about refugees in our Country. Couldn't put it down.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This was an amazing book and you never knew what was going to happen. After everything everyone had been thru, I was surprised at the ending.
shukween avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 118 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I was blown away by this book. On the surface, it's a fairly simple story of a prosperous modern professional UK couple's being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and coming face to face with in-country violence in Nigeria.

More deeply, it is a study of the interplay of emotions that the characters whose lives intersect feel. It is very well written and reads easily, and I could not wait to finish it. A book to make you really think hard about your values, but it leads you to do that entertainingly and gently. IMHO, the very best of current fiction.
mom2candc avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 7 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I enjoyed this book - for the most part. I found some of the story to be a bit slow, especially the middle. The author's description brought the story to life. The end was depressing for me, personally. I was hoping for a happier ending after the dramatic storyline. I would definitely read another book by this author and would recommend this book.
edouc avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on
Great book, however I felt it ended somewhat abruptly.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 2 more book reviews
It was excellent. It took many twists and turns, but
constantly tugged at your heart.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on
For me this book came no where close to living up to the hype surrounding it. The story started out interesting, not mesmerizing, and rapidly fell flat after that. The characters are poorly developed and other than the main character "Little Bee" most are uniteresting. I found very little amusing in this book and the ending was rushed and completely unbelievable.
jeffree avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 16 more book reviews
In the end I loved this book. Took a bit to get used to it in the beginning because the chapters were voiced in the first person and vacillated between two characters. By the middle of the book I couldn't put it down. Although the story did not end in the way I would have liked I still thought it a phenomenal story, albeit a sad one. Well worth the read.
b-e-e avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 16 more book reviews
From the beginning of this book, I was engaged. What was the tramatic thing that happened on the beach? When I discovered the truth, I felt compassion for all of the main characters. What would I have done under the same circumstances. This book was thought provoking, relavant and deeply emotional.
MKSbooklady avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 927 more book reviews
After reading some of the reviews, I wasn't sure what if I wanted to read it. I am so glad I did. Though it takes place in England, it could be the US. To say Little Bee is an engaging character is an understatement. She is smarter than any other characters in the book. Once you start, you will want to finish this.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 3 more book reviews
I decided to pick up this book because of the unbelievable hype I saw shelves all over the place (the train station, kiosks in the mall) and all over Amazon and various other sites. When the little blurb on the back gave little information and left much to the imagination, I was immediately intrigued...and quickly disappointed. This book really did not go anywhere. The character development was not deep enough for me, the plot went all over the place, and the book was generally depressing. I felt I had to finish it, just to see if it went anywhere...but it definitely was not as wonderful as I expected, unfortunately.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on
Great book!
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on
Disappointing book. The author does a lousy job trying to turn Sarah into a heroine. She had an extra-marital affair because she was 'unfulfilled', was in Nigeria because she was taking advantage of corporate freebies, and stayed on the beach when she was harshly warned to go back to her hotel. Sarah brought a Nigerian girl with her to her husband's funeral and yet it seems that no one asked her about the girl. She let her lover spend the night in her dead husband's bed and interact with her confused four-year old. I found Sarah to be a sorry, irresponsible solipsist. The book did, however, peak my curiosity about Nigeria. I intend to spend a little time Googling.
pbspam avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 12 more book reviews
The reviews on 'Little Bee' have been very mixed, as were reviews today when discussed at Book Club. Personally, I expected so much more...but was sadly disappointed. Discussion questions asked, 'What will you do with this knowledge?', and that would be my question to the author. Knowing what you know, having the forum you have, what will you...what have you done with this knowledge?
denneane avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 17 more book reviews
One of the best books I've read. A glimpse into men, women, their relationships and the strength and power of love.

This is a book that I'd highly recommend. It's one that's stuck with me even months after finishing it. I couldn't put it down.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on
I was really enjoying this book. I was getting into the characters, diving deeper into their lives and their stories when All of a sudden, the book just ended. I sat for a couple minutes and re-read the last couple pages. Surely I missed something? It can't have just ENDED! Once I realized that I had indeed finished the book, I was longing for the remainder. I want to know what happened to Little Bee. I want to know what happened to Batman! I WANT to know what happens!!! (Other than that, I can't really tell you anything else, as the book cover specifically tells not to discuss what happens in the book)

P.S. Mr. Cleave, if you ever read this, please know that I am eagerly waiting for "Little Bee II"
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on
This book made an impression on me!
allister avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 13 more book reviews
I am trying to stay away from books that are depressing, but this book was solidly written and kept me engaged. There was no big reveal that was alluded to on the book jacket, and I agree this isn't a book for everyone. The Little Bee character was carefully constructed and her history and plot arc were consistent with her character. The Sarah and Andrew characters, not so much. Their story, from their romance to the ill-fated vacation to Andrew's death, seem like a square peg Cleave is trying to mesh with the Little Bee round hole. Will read more by this author.
danelleb avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 19 more book reviews
What's with the back cover? All mysterious and such?
"We don't want to tell you WHAT HAPPENS in this book. It is a truly SPECIAL STORY and we don't want to spoil it. NEVERTHELESS, you need to know enough to buy it, so we will just say this:

This is the story of two women...(cont'd)

For all the mysteriousness on the back cover and the pages upon pages of high praise contained in my edition, I have to say I was prepared to be "blown away" (as The Washington Post promises on the front cover). But I wasn't.

Little Bee has fled her home country of Nigeria after first witnessing some horrific acts and then eluding capture and death. To escape what is surely to be her fate, she decides to be a stowaway on a cargo ship and winds up in the UK. As the book begins, she has just been released from a UK immigration detention center. Alone in a foreign country with only the clothes on her back, Little Bee seeks out the one English person she knows: Sarah, a mother and magazine editor who had an unusual encounter with Little Bee on a beach in Nigeria while on a holiday with her husband, Andrew.

The author's main focus in this book is the immigration status of refugees and the deplorable treatment they receive at these detention centers. Though the book isn't really a tirade versus the treatment of the refugees and the bureaucracy that encourages it, it does open the door for it to be investigated, discussed, etc. And that, in itself, is one of the great things about this book and one of the reasons why you should read it. (I mean, I had no idea this existed! And it happens in the UK?! I guess for once I am the egocentric American, as I thought We had cornered the market on the "this-is-mine-and-I-must-protect-it-from-the-likes-of-you" attitude.)

The book has two narrators: Little Bee and Sarah. And though the book's subject matter is important and should be read, I felt it fell flat - more so in Sarah's chapters than in Little Bee's. Little Bee's chapters and her plight as a refugee - not having anyone and not belonging anywhere, were more compelling. It's not a bad book, but it's not really as great as the four pages of praise would lead you to believe.
pitbuell avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on
as sad as this book is, it was wonderfully written and easy to read, I could not put it down.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 9 more book reviews
the prose was a bit hard to follow in her broken way of talking, but an interesting story with a cliff hanger/make your own ending. It's hard to describe.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 6 more book reviews
I began reading the book without full understanding of what it would be about. All I knew was what the cover had said about two women affecting each other's lives and how one had done something really terrible for or to the other. With that being said, after reading it, I can't say that it is my favorite book. I enjoyed learning some things about Nigeria and also about the way illegal immigration is handled in England. I thought being inside Little Bee's head was very interesting. But honestly, the ending of the book left me a bit cold. I didn't feel like the book ended in any kind of hope. All the characters involved in the story were seriously flawed human beings. And in that, they didn't all deserve any sort of happily ever after. But I think it is human nature to read a book ending and to want to know that everyone is okay at the end. It doesn't have to be happy. It just needs to be okay. Little Bee didn't allow me to know that our main characters would be okay. In fact, I would expect the next chapter to be full of the horrors that happened to our main characters.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on
The book was a page turner, but I wasn't happy with the ending. It was like the author just quit writing.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 2 more book reviews
I found some of the plot unnecessary, however, I could not put this book down due to the voice of Little Bee and her wonderful insights on the English language. I read this in one sitting.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 4 more book reviews
I only picked up this book because I needed something to read on the 30-min bus ride to work. It starts out vague in the beginning, leaving you wanting to find out what happened to Bee and how she knows this couple in England. It's not really magical, though, it's pretty depressing. And I could go without the son's horrible grammer.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on
I really wanted to like this book, but I just couldn't. I found the characters unbelievable, the story predictable and the whole thing depressing. I know this book is being praised everywhere, but not by me. There are some good moments, Charlie is a well written character, too bad he's four. Do not read this if you are at all depressed.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on
A very quick read and interesting story. Some of the characters were dull and some situations in the book were a stretch. The ending was very disappointing and I had to read the end of the book a couple times just to make sure that it indeed ended the way I thought it did. The ending was certainly a dud.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 7 more book reviews
Expected to like this book and got into the story for about 2/3 of the book but the final 1/3 was so idiotic that it ruined the entire story. After reading the description on the book jacket the actual book was a disappointment.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 9 more book reviews
Excellent book. Well written. It deals with deeply personal and global justice issues with depth and authenticity.
BaileysBooks avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 491 more book reviews
I am always hesitant about back-of-the-book blurbs that tell you absolutely nothing about the book. "We don't want to tell you what happens in this book. It is a truly special story and we don't want to spoil it ... Once you have read it, you'll want to tell your friends about it. When you do, don't tell them what happens. The magic is in how the story unfolds."

Really? I thought that was what you were supposed to do with all books that you recommend: don't ruin it for others. But why all the secrecy for Little Bee? If I really knew what it was going to be like, would I still want to read it?

I think that this book has some issues with its own self-perception. Yes, it deals with some heavy topics by exploring social injustices, nationalism, corporate greed, selfishness, sacrifice, and the horrors of genocide, but I don't believe that this book is quite as profound or as magical as it claims to be. Most of the characters (with the exception of Little Bee herself) are flat, annoying, and mostly unlikable. This book also has one of those intentionally ambiguous endings that is supposed to be thought-provoking and moving, yet it left me feeling justified for thinking that the entire book was rather pointless.

While there were some memorable moments and a few quotes worth mulling over, my overall impression of Little Bee is that I wasn't really impressed at all.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 224 more book reviews
I'm somewhat surprised by all of the negative reviews, I really liked this book. I thought the immigrant perspective was interesting, and found the writing style to be decent. I would recommend the book.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 141 more book reviews
I liked this book, but had to re-read the ending twice. The characters in it were all flawed to some extent...even Bee who really could have saved Andrew if she had tried. Sarah also was greatly flawed; an unfaithful wife to Andrew and a lover to another man she failed to show any real commitment to either of them and her child with Andrew, Little Charlie does not seem to arouse much in the way of motherly instincts in her. Her lover, Lawrence is also flawed because he also had a weak commitment to his marriage and family and is more interested in Sarah for sex than love.
Little Bee is the big loser in this book.
kbockl avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 27 more book reviews
Uplifting is not a word I'd use to describe this book. I did like the character of Little Bee very much - she was a complicated and fascinating person, very multidimensional. I wanted to smack Sarah and scream, "Life is not that ****ing hard, lady!"
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 3 more book reviews
overall an excellent read. very plot driven for the first half of the book. second half gets a little too touchy feely.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 6 more book reviews
I thought the book was very well written, and was thoroughly engrossed but feel the ending was unplausible and was disappointing. Overall a great read.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 1103 more book reviews
I liked the writing and especially enjoyed what the author had to say about the power of language and stories. I could only read it in small doses because of the disturbing topics but am glad I read it.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 3 more book reviews
A powerful look at immigration although a bit contrived.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on
Enjoyed Little Bee very much.
Bookfanatic avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on
If you're feeling far too happy then read this book. It's going to bring you down a notch or two. Now if you're sensitive, please stay away from the book.

This book is hyped by its publisher. The blurb on the back of the book is coy. The shocking revelation is shocking indeed, but in a very bad way. The hype surrounding the book makes it seem like the shock is something good. It's not. It's deeply disturbing and gruesome. There's an entire section that I had to make myself read because it was crucial to the story, but it was really shocking. Having said that, I think the book opens the eyes of Westerners to the harsh realities of life in Africa. Little girls in America play beside washing machines and dryers pretending they are hiding from the predatory animals of Africa. Little girls in Africa play in their mud huts dreaming of places where there are washing machines and dryers. The author has a line like that and it really resonated with me. This is a good book for a book club, but it's not a book that I would read again. Reading it once was enough for me.
novelswapper avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 16 more book reviews
Loved it....a wonderful story about a young woman from an African village imbued with a great sense of who she is and what it takes to survive, especially in a foreign country that had detained her as an illegal. Triumphant!!!
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 10 more book reviews
Very interesting story. Not my normal type of book to read but it was very good!
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 21 more book reviews
I like the story. What a sacrifice to make not once, but twice....
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 628 more book reviews
Though there was some interesting information in the book, it just didn't work. There really wasn't much plot, and it went nowhere. I lost interest about 1/2 way through, but finished it, and the characters were not very likeable. Certainly not worth the hype it got.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on

Zydeco avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 80 more book reviews
An okay book about the treatment of a young, illegal immigrant African woman in England. While the issues raised in this novel are important and unfortunately underreported, their treatment in a work of uneven fiction does not do the subject matter justice.

While not a bad novel, it foreshadows much and left me laboring to finish it. The author would do well to write a non-fiction collection of similar stories.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on
i really enjoyed this book even there were many people who didn't.....
truthsayer avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 21 more book reviews
I have to agree with other reviewers about the hype surrounding the book and the so called magical moment of transcendence that never comes.I thought there would be a happy ending for this girl or some kind of hope. Even what little hope she has is from Sarah is flawed and idealistic. Sarah's well intended mistakes put Bee in danger. Bee has more sense about her predicament than educated person in the story. Cleave writes like the newspaper journalist that he is. He doesn't have a refined literary style of someone like Geraldine Brooks. The book has an obvious agenda of making people aware of what happens to villagers in Nigeria who have the misfortune of living where oil is found. The story is subjective. I dislike it when the author tries to make me think his way. It would have been better to have written from a more objective stance instead of using over sentamenalism to make the point. Be wary of some graphic scenes of violence: a village massacre, soldiers pursuing escapees with dogs, self mutilation, and two suicides. I didn't find the story funny at all. I was apalled at the extremeness of caucasion middle class insensitivity. I liked the voices of Little Bee and the girls from the detention center.I wanted to know what happened to them. While a little off, I did find their accents tolerable. Charlie's voice feels way off for a 4 year old--the grammar mistakes seemed too intentional and not like normal speech. I truly hope that women really don't act like Sarah. I hated her character.She was such a superficial airhead. She seemed too much like what a man thinks a woman thinks and acts. Mr. Cleave please go to a male voice. I think you would be far more convincing. Of course, the men are superficial and whiny. Little Bee is the only fully rounded out character that feels real. The rest are there to help create the story. I really can't recommend the book though I did grow as a writer by analyzing what he did right and wrong.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on
Contemporary story with some interesting characters as well as twists and turns. But I sometimes felt too much happened in too few pages, with some things not quite holding together.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 412 more book reviews
This book recieved wildly enthusiastic reviews from around the world--but I'm not so sure that I agree.... I really liked the majority of the novel, but the ending (which for some reason was touted as a big surprise) was very unsatisfying. So I won't be a "spoiler", except to say that I was left with the feeling that the ending was a disconnect from the body of the story. It felt neither "true" nor surprising.
pj-s-bookcorner avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 846 more book reviews
I've had this book on my TBR list for quite a while. While I enjoyed the book and it was moving, I was somewhat disappointed in it. A young Nigerian girl enters England as an illegal and is detained for two years. She is released with several others as a result of one of the girls bribing a guard. She then meets up with a young English couple that she met under very dire circumstances in Nigeria. Her story is profound and moving. However, I found Sarah cold and distant. I did love Sarah's son, who believes he's Batman and must fight the baddies. Moving story from Little Bee's viewpoint.
favoritern avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 55 more book reviews
Started out great as it hooks you right from the beginning but disappointed in the ending.
beebs avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on
Little Bee is a disturbing, but important book. I did not find it completely believable, and yet I can't help but wonder how much of it might be true. While it is a work of fiction, it is a story that needs to be told. Again and again. Examples of persecuted peoples all over the world need to touch our collective consciousness. Awareness will not resolve the suffering, but we must not remain unaware.

I am intrigued at how Cleave told a story of suffering and pain, and at the same time preserved the dignity of the protagonist so well. It is a very human story. One I suspect I am better for having read.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 272 more book reviews
Not one of my favorites. It left me wanting more at the end of the book.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 3 more book reviews
This is a sad, but memorable book. Everyone should read this.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 2 more book reviews
While I found this story heartbreaking and, at times, painfully violent, it's also a story about what people can and cannot endure and makes you think about what *you* would do if you were in any of the characters' situations. It's about human strength and weakness and about love and courage between strangers. I thought the first chapter was hard to labor through, but it became a quick read after that.
njmom3 avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 1355 more book reviews
This book was really two stories that come together because of one horrific event. The first - the more interesting one - is of the refugee Little Bee. It is a story of war, the atrocities of war, loss, the refugee experience, sadness, courage and survival. The second is the Story of Sarah. This is a story of love, marriage, infidelity, parenthood, and courage. The stories intertwine and meet. I just wish there was more of the story of Little Bee than Sarah.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on
Only because this was chosen for book club, did I finish the book. Little Bee was the only character of interest and the others just flat.
fortheloveofreading avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on
This book was fantastic. A heartbreaking but beautiful story about two totally different women who save each other in such unexpected ways. Chris Cleave magically weaves together a wonderful piece of unexpected twists and vulnerable story lines. I would highly recommend it!
IndulgeYourself avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 100 more book reviews
This was a very unique story - I really liked it. Makes you think about things going on in the world that are so easy to turn away from and close your eyes to with illegal immigrants. I did not like how it ended as I had hoped for a more uplifting ending, but I would still recommend this one.
divegirlkaren avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 4 more book reviews
Story had little to no relationship to the gripping, enticing blurb on the back. The hollow cry for social justice in the Niger River Delta through these simplistic characters and plot line leaves much to be desired. Skip this one.
NancyAZ avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 88 more book reviews
I think I would have liked this book better if there had not been so much hype over it. I heard about it years ago from a TV personality who said it was SO good but couldn't say what it was about. Then the back of the book tells the reader they don't want to tell us what happens in this book as it is a truly special story and they don't want to spoil it. I was expecting to be blown away. I was not. And I don't understand all the secrecy. I am intrigued with any stories set in Africa as I don't know enough about what has gone on in that country and Mr Cleve's story delves into the horrendous treatment of the people of Nigeria but the story as a whole is not anything special or new. It is just OK. It definitely did not change my life.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 9 more book reviews
Some humor offsets the horror of her story, which is told bit by bit. Author is skillful in foreshadowing and holding the reader until mysteries ar revealed. The two women characters come from totally opposite worlds. The men are unlikable. Litte Bee rises above all of them.
anothertag avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 85 more book reviews
My July bookclub selection. This book was #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list. However not a favorite of mine. Story of Little Bee, a refugee from Nigeria and Sarah, a magazine editor in London. They met in Nigeria and then again 2 years later just outside Sarah's house. Sarah's husband just died and Little Bee doesn't know what to do since she is in the country illegally. I was not happy with the conclusion.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 6 more book reviews
I thought I would LOVE this book from all of the reviews it got. It was good, but seemed to drag in the middle, but then picked up again. I found myself not really caring how it ended. It was a bit depressing, and sort of unbelievable at times.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on
A well writen book.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on
This book is very well-written. I felt like I could "hear" the characters speaking. The author gives these woman a voice. The story also made me want to learn more about what is happening in Nigeria. Very accessible, yet moving.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on
I loved this book. I loved it so much that I gave away my original copy, got it again and gave that copy to my sister. Then I went to the library and got another book by the same author. Interesting, humane, thoughtful and beautifully written.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on
This book was okay. Not stellar, not boring, just okay. I didn't care for the ending.
hailibaileythaxton avatar reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 2 more book reviews
Was hooked by page 3. Wonderful book.
reviewed Little Bee (aka The Other Hand) on + 4 more book reviews
I loved this book. The writing was exceptional. I could not put it down.