Thursday, August 27, 2009

My Memorable Books

The Secret Life of Bees: I loved the writing style and its uniqueness. The story is an inspirational one about freedom and innerstrength.

The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns: I have read both The Kite Runner and A Thousand Spledid Suns twice. Both novels start off with the "old Afghanistan," and transform into incredible stories of regular Afghanis dealing with the changing Afghanistan.

Three Cups of Tea: Greg Mortenson is one of the most amazing, inspirational people on the earth! His story of determination and hard work, with his innocence and naiveity make, make his mission highly admirable.

Train to Pakistan (By Khuswant Singh): This book is about the Partition of India and the violence that ensued. This is a particularly special book because my grandfather lived through the partition.

Stepping on the Cracks: I read this book when I was in middle school, and it is about two young friends dealing with the death of their brothers during WWII.

Bridge to Terabithia: This is one of the most memerable books I have read as a kid. I was really affected by Leslie's death in the end of the book.

The Namesake: I felt so bad for Ashoke and Ashima, and I remember being really mad at Gogol. I think this book is so memorable because it deals with Indian immigrants and their children.

Tuck Everlasting: After I read this book, I realized that I would never want to live forever. Before I read the book, I thought that Winnie would want to live forever, but now I realize that Winnie made the right decicion by living a good, normal life.

My Sister's Keeper (I forgot to add this to my list of book I read this summer!): My mom recommended this book to me. It was such an emotional book, with Anna's kidney eventually going to Kate, but after Anna dies.

To Kill a Mockingbird: We read this book in school in the eighth grade. I recently reread it and loved Scout's character. What I like best about this book is that the issues adressed in the book are seen through Scout's innocent, child-like eyes.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Unconventional Roles in the Secret Life of Bees

Over the summer, I read the following books:
The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar, by Robert Alexander
The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold
The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini
The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd
and Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen

Unconventional Roles in The Secret Life of Bees

Although I enjoyed all of the novels I read this summer, the novel that was most interesting to me was The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd. The Secret Life of Bees is so unique from other novel discussing racial tensions during the 60's because it is centered around a young, white girl who finds her freedom with three independent, black women.

What is so interesting to me is how the roles in this novel are reversed. The three African-American women—August, June, and May Boatwright—and the Black Madonna serve as a refuge for both Lily and her mother. Instead of the Colored women needing help, it is Lily who depends on the women and needs to escape from the law, her guilt, and her father.

I think the reason why I liked this novel so much is that the women are so different from many of the other African-American literary figures that I have read during this time. I was surprised to find, that in the midst of the Civil Rights Act, there could be three financially independent, black women. Why do we seldom hear about such strong figures? For example, Ida B. Wells was a black woman who had a successful career during this time, so women like August must have existed. Usually Black women in literature are more like Rosaleen, poor and helpless, becoming a stock character. However, these women are smart and independent, since they make “honey money,” according to Zack, and are “so cultured,” according to Lily. August is impressive because of her passion for honey making and reading. She and Lily share these passions, as Lily wants to become a writer. T. Ray, on the other hand, is the more ignorant and undereducated character, as he barely knows William Shakespeare while August spends her free time reading books like Jane Eyre.

Although all of the African-Americans in the novel experience racism, Lily is also discriminated against. June does not accept Lily because August had to work as a maid in Lily’s mother’s house. I think that June is embarrassed of such circumstances, since August’s intellect and passion is clearly above that of a housemaid, just as Lily’s intelligence is above attending a beauty school. June, who can only teach at a black school, is letting out her frustration of white society’s rules on Lily. However, June is stereotyping Lily as a privileged, white girl, when in reality, Lily is anything but privileged. Instead, Lily needs to find the inner strength, the “mother inside,” to break away from T. Ray and become free. The Boatwright sisters teach this strength to Lily. Our Lady of Chains, or Black Mary, is not limited to African-American women who have faith in her, who call themselves the Daughters of Mary. I think this novel goes beyond racial tensions and moves into female empowerment, and with Lily, the Daughters of Mary expands itself into a female club working together to achieve freedom. The story is inspirational because the women find that the strength they need to overcome their injustices is within them, with their confidence and independence.