My rating: 4 of 5 stars
It makes me smile to think that having arrived for a day on the beach realising I had no book, a rushed visit to the nearest book shop and bought this book mainly because of the comparison on the cover to Cloud Atlas, my favorite read of 2012 so far. Surfers Paradise is a very different beach to the one in Nigeria portrayed in this book, but it is in a country with as many questions about ‘illegal immigrants’ to answer as the UK and white folk similar to those we meet in The Other Hand.
I very much enjoyed the wisdom and wit in the voice of Little Bee and like others, found the white voices a little dull and at times annoying. But having finished the book and reflected a little, I wonder if that is the point? Aren’t many of ‘us’ a little dull, lifeless and thoughtless these days? Hasn’t Chris Cleave just held a mirror up to many of our faces and asked us to take a long hard look?
The closing scene of the little white boy being lost in a sea of play with the local children made me think how differently those children would be ‘lost’ if they arrived uninvited on our shores as indeed Little Bee was. OK, so we may not have Soldiers on our beaches (although we do on other peoples’) but there is muck underneath our rugs just the same.
So whilst at times I found the book inspiring and at other insipid, it is a book I would recommend you read. It is a book of our times, if not the book of our time.