“Most days I wish I was a British pound coin instead of an African girl. Everyone would be pleased to see me coming. Maybe I could visit you for the weekend and then suddenly, because I am fickle like that, I would visit the man from the corner shop instead - but you would not be sad because you would be eating a cinnamon bun, or drinking Coca-Cola from the can, and you would never think of me again.” (Cleave 1)
This is the very beginning of Little Bee. As I’m sure you can see, it’s very well-written. It’s lighthearted on the surface, making it possible to read through the horrible events it depicts. These issues, like the oil and gas business in Nigeria, illegal immigrants, mental illness, and more are explored in Little Bee, not leaving out details. It makes the reader appreciate how terrible they really are, gaining understanding and hopefully, caring about them. As I understand it, that’s the point of this novel study.
One of the reasons I felt Little Bee helped me understand illegal immigration was by telling Little Bee’s story through many different perspectives. For example, “‘It doesn’t matter how you talk, does it?’ she said. ‘You’re a drain on resources. The point is you don’t belong here.’” (Cleave 246) This is an immigration officer who works for the government talking. Lawrence, a citizen of the UK and civil servant, thinks it’d be ideal if there weren’t refugees in the first place. He’ll acknowledge it’s good to help them out, but thinks it’s pointless because there’s too many and helping them puts you in more danger than it’s worth. “Save her and there’s a whole world of them behind her. A whole swarm of Little Bees coming here to feed.” (Cleave 207)
“He is also saying that young people who are running away from trouble in other countries will be allowed to stay in this country so long as they work hard and do not make any fuss.” (Cleave 184) This perspective is that of a refugee. This is Little Bee’s ideal, that refugees can contribute to economies and countries. They can’t go back to where they came from. There are more perspectives too, and many other issues in this book, illegal immigration is just one example. (Though the most thoroughly explored.)
If you want to read a book that will teach you a little bit more about the world, I’d suggest reading Little Bee. It might not be exactly enjoyable, but you’ll learn a lot. You can also look at the page above to see more books that I think relate to global issues and could also be included in this novel study.
“Recognize yourself in he and she who are not like you and me.” - Carlos Fuentes