I had hoped this would be a really incredible gut-wrencher, heartbreaker of a book, but I feel like it didn't really live up to the potential it had. Like it was a little scattered and unfocused, so instead of showing us exactly what we should see, we are instead shown the things that lie around the thing that we should see, and we have to put the picture of the thing together on our own.
If this book had just been about the relationship of two women who share a horrible event in their history, then this could have been a great book for me. But the 'issues' that were folded into this story left me feeling a little unsatisfied. One needs to be ballsy when dealing with these kinds of issues, if one is going to include them in their book. One needs to be willing to make it REAL, to make the reader ache for the characters that go through the things you show them. I've read a lot of gut-wrenching books. I was hoping that this would be one that would make me sit up and take notice... but it didn't.
I didn't really feel like I could identify with any of the characters. Little Bee was a bit of an anomaly, being where she's been and where she is now. I found it hard to really understand her, even though it's apparent that she's meant to bridge the gap between her world and ours and allow us to empathize for those enduring such cruelty. But I didn't GET her, even though I mostly liked her and had my fingers crossed that she'd be OK. Sarah wasn't much better for me, either. I could understand her better, but I didn't like her. I thought that she was incredibly selfish and uncaring in her "Suburban Early-30s Professional" life. The way she derailed Little Bee's story with her own petty concerns and tedious details (those about her career and Lawrence) annoyed me. I understand the point to the story, I do, I just didn't care because I didn't much like her. She did grow up and mature over the course of the book, but the damage was done.
All of this is not to say that this book isn't good. It is, but it's JUST good. It works out that way sometimes. I thoroughly enjoyed reading
this book - the writing is gorgeous, and there are so many lines that are quotable gems strewn throughout... but great novels are more than just pretty words. I had hoped to really experience this one, to be thrown into the lives of these women and see something amazing through their eyes. I didn't get that, but for the potential and the beautiful writing, this gets a two. If it had been gutsy, and been focused, it could have easily been a five star book. Too bad.