Standalone. UpStart Press (May 2014) TLC Book Tours
The spring Melissa (Lissy) Singer is eleven years old her mother walks out of the house and never returns. That summer Lissy's father, a migratory beekeeper, takes her along with him on his travels. The trip and the people she meets change her life. Over the years that follow, Melissa tries to unlock the mystery of her mother’s disappearance and struggles to come to terms with her loss.
Before reading Bee Summers I had the impression it was going to be like The Secret Life of Bees. The premise never alluded to it being the same but I couldn't help see the similarities with Lissy and her bees. What I got instead was a story that expanded a whole lifetime of questions, pain, sadness, and a quiet resolution that will resonate within the hearts of readers.
I assumed too much about this book. I assumed it was going to be like another and I assumed it was going to be about one child's summer after her mother leaves. It was so much more than that. One day Lissy wakes up to the quiet of the morning and an uneasiness settles onto her. Her mother is nowhere to be found. Bee Summers chronicles her first summer with her beekeeper father waiting for her mother to come home as well as how her mother's disappearance affects her life later on. You see Lissy trying to cope with her mother's sudden absence. She knows her mother's gone but her father refuses to let on why. She grows concerned that her mother has cancer and throughout her life makes up stories as to why she isn't around. Her father tries to protect her from the truth. He silently deals with his wife's absence while taking care of his daughter. You can tell he really cares for his daughter and wants only to protect her from her mother's mistakes.
Lissy deals with a lot of teasing and the loss of her best friend after that first summer. She retreats into books and eventually into writing. She has her eccentric Aunt Hetty to lean on, a writer to believe in her, an apple farmer to remind her of her origins, and Opal a sweet woman who provides her with motherly support. Each person roles evolves throughout the book. Some in a negative way and the others fade away from her life. It was sad to see Lissy grow up without her mother and have to endure her town's scrutiny. It was 1966 I believe so I guess I understand the gossip especially since it's a small town. But, she mentioned that she had a few friends in passing in her younger years. It really frustrated me to think that people regarded her pain with taunts and giggles rather than with support. As you read about her growing up and becoming a writer there is still the sense of that lost girl looking for her mother. She keeps holding on to this little girl and her mother that left her. It's a really somber book although I love how the story ended. Her views about herself, her father, and her mother transformed before my eyes. Realization hit her and it was extremely satisfying to see her leave that lost little girl behind. Bee Summers was an unexpected but welcoming read. It really made me think of how we need to let go of the past to move forward and be happy. Also, how we are such stubborn beings but if we continue that way we will miss out on something great.
Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for letting me read and review Bee Summers!