Little Bee Chris Cleave, 2008

There are lines in this account of a 16 year-old girl’s odyssey I wish I’d written: the language/the dialogue so fine; the connection with the title character forged so skillfully. I couldn’t put the book down, in spite of scenes of appalling brutality, gory details about suicides, and the inevitability of “Little Bee’s” failure to break free of her past, even when she muses that in multi-racial London she “could disappear into the human race… as simply as a bee vanishes into the hive.” But the journalist in Cleave outweighs the novelist when he puts showing how badly Western states treat asylum seekers and refugees ahead of credible character and plot development. A second narrator doesn’t help. Nor do the inevitable capture of the girl, Udo, and her faith in a white child’s future satisfy.                                                                                 7/10

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