Last week, amidst almost constant power outages, I was searching for a good novel to drink in with my endless cups of tea and decaf coffee. My roommate lent me, “The Secret Life of Bees” by Sue Monk Kidd and within pages I was hooked.
I fell abruptly into the room of an awkward adolescent who was dealing with trauma too great for her tender spirit and just kept turning pages. I met the brokenness with a dull ache for all things wrong in the world. The loud, bold anthem of “justice rolls down like a mighty water” fought against the things little Lily faced in her family, culture, and within herself.
But, as much as I resonated with the brokenness seeping off the pages, I couldn’t help but hurt most for the proposed solution, a confused picture of religion.
Now, I finished the book in three short electricity-absent days, so you must understand that I do appreciate the cleverness with which it was written. Every time I turned the page, I seemed to rub shoulders with one of the characters and resonate with their search for meaning and most importantly, hope.
Lily, the main character, is forced to look beyond her circumstances, prejudice, tradition, and her own fears to find something that’s worth living for. She ends up in a delightful, loving, bright pink home outside small-town Tiburon, South Carolina. From the remnants of her little, broken life, we see a splendid new girl emerge.
I struggle, though, because in the end I see Lily just as lost as in the beginning. She has found a place where she feels loved, wanted, and treasured. But, I can’t say that she has truly found hope… a hope that does not disappoint. She ends up putting her trust and faith in this idea of virgin Mary – seeing her in everything and believing she protects and guides. But, I know that no one – not one person – is found to be without sin, even Mary. And to put our hope in a human will certainly lead to disappointment.
This post is shorter than my true thoughts on the subject, but I have a funny feeling that the more I write the less sense I will make. So, I invite your thoughts – for those who have/have not read this book. What do you think of the message woven throughout the pages?