Excerpt from The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Secret Life of Bees

by Sue Monk Kidd

The Secret Life of Bees
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jan 2002, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2003, 320 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


That's what I was doing -- - taking a good long look at my knees -- - when T. Ray stomped through the back door.

"Well, look who decided to get up." He yanked the bread out of my hands and threw it into Snout's food bowl. "Would it be too much to ask you to get out to the peach stand and do some work? You're not Queen for a Day, you know."

This will sound crazy, but up until then I thought T. Ray probably loved me some. I could never forget the time he smiled at me in church when I was singing with the hymn book upside down.

Now I looked at his face. It was full of anger and despising.

"As long as you live under my roof, you'll do what I say!" he shouted.

Then I'll find another roof, I thought.

"You understand me?" he said.

"Yes, sir, I understand," I said, and I did, too. I understood that a new rooftop would do wonder for me.

***

Late that afternoon I caught two more bees. Lying on my stomach across the bed, I watched how they orbited the space in the jar, around and around like they'd missed the exit.

Rosaleen poked her head in the door. "You all right?"

"Yeah, I'm fine."

"I'm leaving now. You tell your daddy I'm going into town tomorrow instead of coming here."

"You're going to town? Take me," I said.

"Why do you wanna go?"

"Please, Rosaleen."

"You're gonna have to walk the whole way."

"I don't care."

"Ain't nothing much gonna be open but firecracker stands and the grocery store."

"I don't care. I just wanna get out of the house some on my birthday."

Rosaleen stared at me, sagged low on her big ankles. "All right, but you ask your daddy. I'll be by here first thing in the morning."

She was out the door. I called after her. "How come you're going to town?"

She stayed with her back to me a moment, unmoving. When she turned, her face looked soft and changed, like a different Rosaleen. Her hand dipped into her pocket, where her fingers crawled around for something. She drew out a folded piece of notebook paper and came to sit beside me on the bed. I rubbed my knees while she smoothed out the paper across her lap.

Her name, Rosaleen Daise, was written twenty-five times at least down the page in large, careful cursive, like the first paper you turn in when school starts. "This is my practice sheet," she said. "For the Fourth of July they're having a voters' rally at the colored church. I'm registering myself to vote."

An uneasy feeling settled in my stomach. Last night the television had said a man in Mississippi was killed for registering to vote, and I myself had overheard Mr. Bussey, one of the deacons, say to T. Ray, "Don't you worry, they're gonna make 'em write their names in perfect cursive and refuse them a card if they forget so much as to dot an i or make a loop in their y."

I studied the curves of Rosaleen's R. "Does T. Ray know what you're doing?"

"T. Ray," she said. "T. Ray don't know nothing."

***

At sunset he shuffled up, sweaty from work. I met him at the kitchen door, my arms folded across the front of my blouse. "I thought I'd walk to town with Rosaleen tomorrow. I need to buy some sanitary supplies."

He accepted this without comment. T. Ray hated female puberty worse than anything.

That night I looked at the jar of bees on my dresser. The poor creatures perched on the bottom barely moving, obviously pining away for flight. I remembered then the way they'd slipped from the cracks in my walls and flown for the sheer joy of it. I thought about the way my mother had built trails of graham-cracker crumbs and marshmallow to lure roaches from the house rather than step on them. I doubted she would've approved of keeping bees in a jar. I unscrewed the lid and set it aside.

From The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, Copyright © January 2002, Viking Press, a division of Penguin Putnam, Inc., used by permission.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Holding Up the Universe
    Holding Up the Universe
    by Jennifer Niven
    Jennifer Niven's spectacular Holding Up the Universe has everything that I love about Young ...
  • Book Jacket: Coffin Road
    Coffin Road
    by Peter May
    From its richly atmospheric opening to its dramatic conclusion, Peter May's Coffin Road is a ...
  • Book Jacket: The Guineveres
    The Guineveres
    by Sarah Domet
    It's a human need to know one's own identity, to belong to someone, to yearn for a place ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win All the Gallant Men

All The Gallant Men

The first memoir by a USS Arizona survivor, 75 years after Pearl Harbor.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

K Y Eyes P

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.