The story has 2 story-tellers - who has totally different backgrounds except for the fact that they are both women, and have brave heart.
One is a teenager girl called "Little Bee" (which is not her real name), a refugee girl from Nigeria. Narrowly escaping from the savage invaders from petrol company, (all of her family and village people were killed by them) she learns "Queen's English" at the refugee's detention center to protect herself to survive in UK.
The way she talks is so sweet and lovely, full of wits, but her destiny is too tragical and her traumatic past is haunting her all the time.
Another heroine is a 32-year-old woman called Sarah, a fashion magazine editor, who's married and got an adorable son. On the trip to Nigeria, her husband and she met Little Bee on the beach, which changed the couple's life totally. She sacrificed her middle finger to save Little Bee's life.
There's supposed to be a tremendous ditch between the two women's world. Little Bee is from a small village in a "developing" nation, and Sarah is from a "rich" country. (...I know, the vocabularies sound really rude and snobbish, but I didn't know what else to pick out. Sorry.)
Their backgrounds, their way of thinking, their customs and culture... All the things are different. They belong to the different world.
Nevertheless, there's a strong ties between the two women. That's why Sarah's son Charlie calls Little Bee "one of our family". How can it be possible?
One reason is because Sarah hurt herself to save Little Bee's life. I've once heard somewhere that only human beings(out of all the animals) can sacrifice themselves to rescue others. Even though Sarah meets Little Bee on the beach just by chance and she has no conncection to her life, Sarah just couldn't run away.
Also, Little Bee's always kept Sarah in mind and wishes to be any of her help to pay back what she has done to herself. Both women try to have relationship with the outside world. That's what I really like about them.
Mother Teresa once said, "Indifference is the saddest thing." I thought the same thing too. When Lawrence(Sarah is having affair with him) tries to give a threat to Little Bee, she talks back at her and explodes her anger.
And then, Lawrence looked surprised. He says, "I've been thinking what is best for me and Sarah, but never thought about what you'd do."
...There. That's the point. Maybe, people in the developed world think that African people have no emotion. They've never thought of being attacked back by them, or being accused by them, because they overtrust their superiority.
The selfish arrogance(of Lawrence) made me mad, at the same time, I couldn't stop wondering our convenient life is going on smoothly thanks to those resources we've got(=we took away by force) from those countries.
In order to make the "ditch" smaller, what we can do is to talk, using words. English has a significant role in the story. Little Bee learns to talk in Queen's English, while Sarah's always busy correcting Charlie's wrong grammar.(that's cute.) Eventually, Little Bee was repatriated by UK government, but Sarah tries to write a book and tell the world the truth. Words can have power to change the world.
Sometimes I think English might be a world herritage, because it enables us to talk to each other, people from every parts of the world can share opinions together. When you can talk correctly, you can protect yourself. When you can exchange ideas, you can try to understand somebody from the backside of the earth. The road is long and tough but we have to continue to "talk" and keep on telling the world what's happening in the world and tell the truth.
At the same time, I also have to keep in mind thatEnglish is not everything. Under the name of "Little Bee", her real Nigerian name is hidden and she tries to kille her identity to assimilate herself to UK. Words can save people but words can kill people too. When everybody speaks English and forget their own language, enriched minority cultures die and people will be deprived of their pride and dignity.
...The story gives us a lot of themes to consider.
It's really amazing that it was written by a male author, because he knows how women feel under this circumstances. In this story, men characters are weak and selfish, and women are strong, flexible and wise. (I really like Little Bee's sister Nkiruka too!! It was so heartbreaking how she is killed...)