Sue Monk Kidd: The Secret Lives of Bees

by Rachel Baker on February 7, 2008

the Secret Lives of BeesThe Secret Lives of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd is one of those books that sits on your shelf for a while before you actually crack the spine.

I don’t really know why that is, but I’ve been reading a lot of reviews on this particular book and most people have said they resisted the temptation to read it even though reviews were excellent. Some people cited the title as the deterrent – “who cares about the lives of bees” and some people really didn’t have an answer.

Here’s my story: My mother has had “The Secret Lives of Bees” sitting on her living room table on top of my Iris Murdoch for more months than I can remember. I don’t think she’s read the Iris Murdoch book and I certainly didn’t read “The Secret Lives of Bees.” I thought I didn’t really care for the title. The book cover “looked boring” and I couldn’t imagine any book that would be interesting having to do with Bees. I just don’t like Bees.

This past weekend, I visited mom for some R&R. Thursday night, I decided nothing on her bookshelf looked interesting for the weekend, and my trek into Ulysses was not something I classified as relaxing enough. She’d been trying to get me to read “The Secret Lives of Bees” for months, and I’d resisted. Remembering the only review she’d given me was “Its a wonderful book on the power of women friends,” I decided, “what the hell.”

Several conversations over the last week had reminded me of the importance of having dear girl friends in our lives and I thought I’d give this book a chance.

I put the book down long enough to get five hours of sleep and finished it the next day. That evening, mom and I were discussing what a wonderfully powerful book “the Secret Lives of Bees” is and decided to send it to some of the women who mean a great deal in our lives.

Look, its not often you leave a book reflecting about the people in your own lives and how they’ve made such a mark on who you are.

Girl Friends are the Sisters we choose to be our family. Sometimes, these women are blood relatives. Sometimes, these women are those we’ve met along the journey through life. I am lucky – I have two sisters and a couple of cousins that I would choose to be dear friends. I am even luckier to have several great girl friends whom I love as much as I do my blood sisters.

I’ve said often on this site, there are some books I just can’t relate to on the global level. I can’t relate to the actual trauma the main character was carrying with her. I can, however, relate to the realization that even the strangest matches are made when it comes to our chosen sisters. These are the sisters who celebrate your epiphanies – good or bad. These are the sisters who help you become the woman you are destined to be.

After reading this book, I’ve spent some time reflecting on the roles of the women in my life. Some have known me all my life, some have only known me for a few short years. All are insanely important to me, and I couldn’t imagine life without them. Each woman plays a different role in my life.

One of the best things about this book for me was it took all my sisters and put them in one room. Let me explain, most of my sisters don’t live near me or even a days drive away. While I read this book, I imagined all of them sitting in the room with me as I read the book. It wasn’t until the end of the book, I realized each of them had crept into my soul for the first time all over again and said that first ‘hello.’

I hope if you own “The Secret Lives of Bees,” you take it off your shelf and realize its about much more than bees. If you don’t own the book, I hope you one day take the time to read it. I wish for all of you the same experience I had – the realization that you probably have some phenomenal women in your life, and that each of them have helped define who you are as a women!

To join in or start a discussion on this book, visit the Old Musty Books book club community.

DISCLAIMER: I don’t normally write a feature that is so gender specific, for my male audience, I apologize. I can’t really talk intellectually about the impact of male friendships and the development of brotherhood. I suspect it is much like that of women and sisterhood, but I don’t know. So, I apologize for not discussing much about it in this feature.

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