This book is so enthralling that you won’t be able to put the book down until you’ve finished the last page.
This coming of age novel by Sue Monk Kidd follows Lily Owens, a 14-year-old girl, as she tries to escape her abusive father and the haunting memory of her mother’s death.
Her new mother figure, Rosaleen, joins Lily and the trio of black beekeeping sisters in their quest for freedom, unaware of their ties to Lily’s mother’s past.
With its setting in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees examines racism, religion, the strength of a women’s community, and the importance of storytelling before the Civil Rights Movement.
This list of fascinating books like The Secret Life of Bees, which follows, explores similar themes through the stories of their captivating characters, sure to break your heart, and they are an ideal escape from the times we are currently experiencing.
Books like The Secret Life of Bees
The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Color Purple by Alice Walker is a great place to begin our list of compelling books.
“The Book of Celie” tells the story of the life of an African-American teen who grows up isolated in rural Georgia. Alphonso, the man she is forced to marry, and his children from a previous marriage are all depicted here.
Written as a series of twenty-year-long letters to God and her older sister Nettie, this memoir follows Celie as she struggles to come to terms with her impending adulthood.
After 38 years, Walker’s novel remains one of the most important and influential works of literature, despite the book’s depiction of sexual and domestic abuse, homosexuality, racism and explicit violence.
If you’re looking for more books like The Secret Life of Bees that deal with religion, domestic abuse, racism, and the power of community, pick up a copy of The Color Purple.
The Bastard of Istanbul, by Elif Shafak
The Bastard of Istanbul is Elif Shafak’s second English-language novel, and it tells the story of two families, one in Istanbul and the other in the United States, whose histories are intricately intertwined.
The Kazancis are cursed. A young man is the only one left in the Kazanci family when all of the men have passed away. Asya Kazanci, the titular “bastard,” lives in Istanbul with her mother, three aunts, and her estranged uncle, Armanoush, in the United States.
Armanoush is on a quest for self-discovery when she decides to visit Istanbul on the spur of the moment. It is here that she meets the Kazanci family, where she quickly falls in love with Asya, unaware that the two families have a deeper connection than her new stepfather, which dates back to the Armenian genocide of World War I.
Novelist Shafak’s The Bastard of Istanbul is a bold, compelling, and evocative work of fiction that will appeal to fans of novels like The Secret Life of Bees.
Beloved, by Toni Morison
Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Beloved is the next book on this list of books similar to The Secret Life of Bees.
In spite of the fact that she managed to escape slavery, Sethe can’t escape one particularly traumatic memory from her past.
Her first daughter’s death, which she buried under a Beloved tombstone. As a constant reminder of her eldest daughter, Sethe is pushed to the brink of sanity by the poltergeist-like happenings in the house or her overwhelming guilt.
However, some time later, a teenage girl arrives on Sethe’s doorstep, claiming to be her daughter Beloved, and she gets the chance to redeem herself. To make Beloved happy, Sethe spends every waking moment and dollar of her life pampering and pampering Beloved, to the detriment of herself and her family.
Beloved is one of the most enduring works of American Literature because of Morison’s deft exploration of the complexities of the mother-daughter relationship, the psychological effects of slavery, and familial relationships.
The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, by Kim Edwards
Kim Edwards’ novel The Memory Keeper’s Daughter is filled with family secrets and lies.
In the winter of 1964, Dr. David Henry’s wife, Norah, goes into labor, forcing him to give birth to his own twins in a particularly terrible blizzard. First, a healthy baby boy is born, followed by a daughter with Down Syndrome.
A decision that will haunt both of them for the rest of their lives, he asks his nurse, Caroline, to take the baby to an institution and tell Norah that the baby has passed away.
When Caroline is unable to give up her baby, her mother moves away and raises her as her own. Over the next twenty-five years, these two families bound by their impulsive decisions of that one winter night will inevitably collide.
Like The Secret Life of Bees, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter will keep you turning the pages until the very end.
The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan
The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan’s insightful and engrossing novel about four mothers and their daughters, is centered on the experiences, secrets, and relationship between mother and daughter.
While playing mahjong every week, four Chinese women, all of whom have recently relocated to San Francisco, share stories about the lives they had back in China. This is the Joy Luck Club, a collection of true stories about mothers’ journeys and dreams for the future of their daughters, which includes tales of unhappy marriages, wartime survival, and fleeing an abusive home.
This book is structured like a mahjong game with preceding parables about the game, and Tan delves into the complicated relationship between parents and their children in the lives of eight different women.
As a follow-up to The Secret Lives of Bees, The Joy Luck Club is a hilarious, honest, clever, and tear-jerker of a book that explores the bonds between female communities.
She’s Come Undone, by Wally Lamb
If you’re looking for more books like The Secret Life of Bees, look no further than Wally Lamb’s She’s Come Undone, which features a young protagonist coming of age like Lily Owens.
Dolores Price, a 13-year-old girl with a wise mouth, a big heart, and deep wounds, has a lot of wisdom to impart to her peers. Dolores’ world is turned upside down after her father abandons her mother for another woman. In addition to being forced to live with her strict Catholic grandmother and attend a strict Catholic school, she is raped by her charming new neighbor.
All of this causes her downfall. Dolores grew up relying on television and food for comfort, and by the time she was 17, she weighed more than 250 pounds.
She’s Come Undone, a former pick for Oprah’s Book Club, follows Dolores as she battles through a suicide attempt, marriage counseling, and abusive husbands before finding the love and happiness she deserves.
Life of Pi, by Yann Martel
Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, our next pick, will appeal to fans of the storytelling elements found in books like The Secret Life of Bees.
The Pondicherry Zoo in India is owned by Piscine “Pi” Molitor Patel, a young Tamil boy. His father decided to move his family and animals out of the country and into Canada, but the ship they were on encountered a storm and sank during their journey.
Everyone but Pi, an orangutan, zebra, hyena, and a tiger named Richard Parker, went down with the ship. Pi battles Mother Nature and Richard Parker for his life for 227 days in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Martel deftly pokes fun at the very nature of reality and the difficulties that come with recounting harrowing tales from the perspective of an adult Pi in this retrospective account told by the adult Pi.
Life of Pi has been described as philosophical, fantastical, imaginative, inspiring, heartbreaking, and spiritual by many.
Is this novel already finished? Visit this page to see what other titles compare to Life of Pi.
The Mothers, by Brit Bennet
Brit Bennet’s debut novel, The Mothers, opens with a secret, much like many of the fascinating books on this list, such as The Secret Life of Bees.
Nadia Turner, a senior in high school who is dealing with the grief of her mother’s recent suicide, has a lot on her plate this year. When she falls in love with local pastor’s son Luke Sheppard, she becomes pregnant against her will.
The baby is aborted, but Nadia keeps it a secret from everyone, not even her devout best friend Aubrey. Even after all these years, Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey are still paying the price for the decisions they made that summer.
The Mothers is a lyrical and insightful look at ambition, love, grief, family, Christianity, shame, and choice in the context of a black community in southern California.
In my opinion, books like The Secret Life of Bees tick all the right boxes, with compelling plots, believable characters, real-world settings and inspiring prose. You can read them again and again and never get tired of them.