Another coming-of-age story set during the 1960s civil rights movement in the southern US. Fourteen year old Lily leaves her abusive father and travels with the family’s black housekeeper Roseleen, to the town she thinks her dead mother came from. A drawing of a black madonna left by Lily’s mother leads them to a trio of beekeeping sisters who take Lily and Roseleen in. Lily learns about beekeeping and her family past while enjoying her first case of puppy love with the young black employee of the apiary.
What the Armchair Critics Thought:
There was a slight split in opinion over this book. Most thought it wonderful, uplifting and well written. They loved how the continual references to bees, honey and the black madonna cult tied the plot together and found the theme of sisterhood was powerfully rendered by the major characters. A small minority found the book cloying, cliché, and simplistic and were disturbed by the many inconsistencies in the plot (such as how Lily and the black teen are able to openly carry on their relationship just a year after Roseleen had to leave town due to the endemic racism). The hat wearing, honey smearing cult was also a little much for these readers to accept.