1. The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd:
I thought this one was very powerful and inspiring (mostly). In fact, I was a bad bookworm with this book. I had heard of the movie before, but never knew it was based on a universally acclaimed novel. But hey, I still read the book first, as I have yet to watch the movie! I thought, for the most part, The Secret Life of Bees was very good. For those who aren't familiar with it, it's about fourteen-year-old Lily from the American South in 1964 who, after her black maid insults three of the biggest racists in their small town, runs away from her abusive father in search of information on her late mother, with her maid, Rosaleen, in tow. They escape to Tiburon, South Carolina, where they are taken in by the eccentric but loving "calendar sisters"; August, May and June, who are beekeepers. The writing was very strong and atmospheric; I felt like I was actually in Tiburon for most of it. I was actually prepared to rate The Secret Life of Bees 5 stars...but then the story started to drag in the middle. Like, really drag. The first 100 pages had me so engrossed in the story, but then I thought it really started to drag thereafter. Also, I have a bit of an issue with the character of Rosaleen, Lily's maid who, in the beginning, is said to be her "stand-in mother." For a supposed stand-in mother, Rosaleen is very immature and anything but parental. I understand she and Lily share a unique and unusual relationship, but I was expecting a lot more from her character. After they move in with the sisters in Tiburon, she is quite absent from the main storyline. IDK, maybe it was done that way so as to not take away from Lily's character and her journey and transformation, but I for one was expecting more from Rosaleen's character. Also, I found that one of the themes and messages that comes from The Secret Life of Bees is to look to a higher power, whomever that may be, because they always have your back. As someone who doesn't place a large amount of value in religion and spiritual beliefs, that message didn't really do much for me and took away from the resolution of the story a bit. Again, just me. My issues are more of a "it's me not you" type of thing. But other than a few minor issues, I did enjoy The Secret Life of Bees. I look forward to checking out the movie. 4/5 stars.
2. Dear Mr. You, by Mary-Louise Parker:
I must say, from a literary standpoint, this book is very impressive. Dear Mr. You is Mary-Louise Parker's memoir told in letters to different men she has encountered throughout her life and it was just so...poetically written. Like, some of it actually felt like I was reading poetry because you don't quite always know who she is writing to (she assigns a random name to the person at the beginning). I mean, sometimes it is obvious, but others not so much. So like with poetry, you don't always know what the poet is trying to say, but you can still interpret that it's beautifully and amazingly written because, even if you sometimes have no idea what is going on, you're enjoying yourself. Therefore, I really enjoyed reading Dear Mr. You and I definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys memoirs or just genuinely good writing in general. I feel inclined to give it the highest rating possible because as much as I enjoyed it, I do think it is very impressive and unique. 5/5 stars.