Fourteen year old Lily is growing up in 1960s South Carolina during the struggle for civil rights. With her mother dead and her father abusive, the only person Lily feels close to is her black maid, Rosaleen. When Rosaleen is arrested after a tense altercation about race in town, Lily and Rosaleen go on the run. They end up staying with a beekeeper and her two sisters, who might have a connection to her mother. A coming of age story set during one summer, The Secret Life of Bees is a whimsical novel with lots of dreamy qualities.I wanted to love this book. I thought the topic was interesting, and the real strength of the book was the way that I got such a sense of time and place. Sue Monk Kidd really bought alive the South of the time; the suffocating heat and tense atmosphere. Maybe it's because I read it whilst being in the South myself (now in Atlanta!), but I felt as though I was right there with Lily. Lily was a good protagonist too - her mood swings and rushes of emotion were consistent with what I can remember of being a teenager.But I couldn't love this book. The main problem was that it was too sweet and saccharine. I know it's written to be 'dreamy', and maybe it's my stiff-upper-lip Britishness coming out, but there was too much sentimentality for me. There was too much discussion of empowering your spirit and being a strong woman for me. I agree with all of the sentiments, and thought August was a wonderful character, it was just a bit much for me. I also found it hard to believe that everything would have worked out as well as it did, especially the resolution with Lily's father at the end.I did enjoy the book and it was hard to put down, but it's not one I would pick up again.