Lily Owens has bees in her bedroom. Every night she hears them buzzing behind the walls, like a low murmur of comfort just beyond her sight. She lives with her cruel father, T. Ray, and Rosaleen, her black nanny and stand-in mother. Her real mother died when she was four in an accident with a gun.
It's 1964 and the president has just signed the Civil Rights Act. So on Lily's fourteenth birthday, Rosaleen goes to town to register to vote and takes Lily with her. But when the town's three most racist men attack Rosaleen for trying to register, things start to take on a life of their own. Lily packs a bag, breaks Rosaleen out of jail and sets off to Tiburon, SC: a town scrawled in her mother's handwriting on the back of a strange picture. When the two get there, the picture guides them to a flamingo-pink house where the calendar sisters live: May, June and August Boatwright. August is a beekeeper, and through a few lies and sweet smiles, Lily and Rosaleen are allowed to stay.
The house is like a safe haven, where Lily can relax and not be afraid. But secrets are meant to be told. May accidentally tells Lily that her mother had stayed there before she died. After a tragic death in the family, Lily confides to August: she had killed her mother.
Throughout the book, the Black Madonna is an ever-present force of comfort. This book isn't very religious; rather, it's a comforting presence that helps Lily come to terms with the truth and forgive her mother. A fabulous novel! Nine of ten ocean waves.
– licking honey off of her fingers, Cassandra