The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd tells thte story of Lily Owen. In the summer of 1964, Lily was 14 years old and living in South Carolina. When she was very young, her mother had died under mysterious circumstances. Lily was raised by her abusive father and by Rosaleen, an African-American woman her father brought into their home to look after Lily.
1964 was an intense time for the civil rights movement. One hot summer day, Rosaleen gets into trouble with some of the white men in town. Before they knew it, Lily and Rosaleen find themselves on the run. Lily decides to follow a clue on the back of a picture, one of the few items she possessed that was her mother's. The clue was the name of a town, Tiburon, South Carolina. There Lily and Rosaleen flee, ending up on the door step of a pept0 bismal pink house, home of the Boatwright sisters, August, June and May. The "calendar" sisters agree to take the two in, Rosaleen to help out in the house and Lily to help take care of the bees, for August is a beekeeper.
As Lily learns about the bees she also learns about her own life. Slowly she comes to terms with her past. Lily also discovers what a true family can be -providing love and support, nurturing and encouragement.
Sue Monk Kidd's writing is quite descriptive and often lyrical. The Secret Life of Bees is a good read-a-like for The Help, for they have similar themes - the south, the civil rights movement and strong women. This is a moving and beautiful story of a young girl's coming of age and discovering the power of the feminine.