Lily is haunted by the memory of shooting her mother by accident as a toddler. Her father is thwarted and cruel. When Lily’s black stand-in mother insults a vengeful racist during her attempt to register to vote, Lily springs them both. They escape to a town that holds the secret to her mother’s past, where they stay with three African-American beekeeping sisters and Lily learns about caring, and forgiving her mother and herself. For writers: I like how the author used the bees as an extended metaphor throughout the story. Bees foreshadow the early threats in the plot, but also become a part of what is nurtured by the end, reinforcing the theme of female power and giving the novel a distinctive frame, as well as its memorable title. The title’s allusion to the bees’ secret life invests the women here with one as well.
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