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Teacher Resources: Summary of The Secret Life of Bees
The Secret Life of Bees
Living on the peach farm in South Carolina during 1964 with her harsh, unyielding father, Lily Owens has shaped her entire life around one devastating, blurred memory—the afternoon her mother was killed, when Lily was four. Since then, her only real companion has been the fierce-hearted, and sometimes just fierce, black woman Rosaleen, who acts as her “stand-in mother”.

When Rosaleen tries to register to vote and insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily and Rosaleen take off in the only direction Lily can think of, toward a town called Tiburon, South Carolina—a name on the back of a picture amid the few possessions left by her mother.

They are taken in by a trio of black beekeeping sisters named May, June, and August. Lily enters their mesmerizing secret world of bees and honey, and of the Black Madonna who presides over this household of strong, wise women. Maternal loss and betrayal, guilt and forgiveness entwine in a story that leads Lily to the single thing her heart longs for most.

The Secret Life of Bees has a rare wisdom about life—about mothers and daughters and the women in our lives who become our true mothers. It is a remarkable story about the transforming power of love, with a rich, assured, irresistible voice that gathers a reader up and doesn’t let go.
by Sarah Weed

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