Author: Chris Cleave
The publisher's description:
"This is the story of two women. Their lives collide one fateful day, and one of them has to make a terrible choice, the kind of choice we hope you never have to face. Two years later, they meet again -- the story starts there..."
This book was given to me by a friend who told me they "just couldn't get into it", but I thought I'd give it a shot, since I really liked the cover. Then, when I read the publisher's description, I too wasn't exactly sold on the story. Women have to make difficult decisions all the time...Nonetheless, I was still willing to give it a chance.
The narrative alternates chapter by chapter between two characters, Little Bee and Sarah O'Rourke. Considering the circumstances by which the two meet, and the dilemmas they each face throughout the book, I found myself sympathizing much more with Little Bee. I think this is because I felt like most of Sarah's pain was self-inflicted. After all, adultery, lies and naivete will only get you so far... I also think her husband, Andrew, was a character worth more explication. At the same time, I realize that his role had to be somewhat minor, in order for the plot to unfold the way it does. The reader will discover a great deal about Andrew from Sarah's flashbacks and recollected memories, but that's it. And then there is Lawrence, who I felt was completely unnecessary; his role could have been downgraded and Andrew's upgraded. However, I really enjoyed Little Bee's narrative. It is much more interesting than Sarah's and she has some memorable quotes...I felt like the author intended on making a statement about immigration and zenophobia in his country, but to me it was tinged by Sarah's drama.
Overall, it's a pretty easy and short read and I appreciated the balance of dialogue and description... but I will say the open ending left something to be desired. I was thinking maybe the death of a certain 'superhero' or even the death of a protagonist would seem appropriate, but that's just my opinion. It's definitely a book to take along on a short trip, or during a wait in an airport.