Book Reviews Erin's Book Challenge

Book Review: The Other Hand

The Other Hand is the third novel by author, Chris Cleave. It is the story about Little Bee, a Nigerian refugee in London. The story begins in an immigration detention centre as Little Bee tells the readers how she has learnt the Queen’s English by reading newspapers. Upon her release from the centre, she makes her way to the only people she knows in London: Andrew O’Rourke and his wife Sarah O’Rourke. However, when she arrives at the house, it coincides with the day of Andrew’s funeral. He had committed suicide. A columnist with the Times, Andrew had been depressed since he and Sarah visited Nigeria to work on their marriage a few years ago. Following a traumatising ordeal for all of them, they parted ways. But their lives were never the same. As Sarah welcomes Little Bee into her life with her four-year old, Charlie who believes he is Batman, the two women recollect the past that brought them together in the present.

The book is beautifully written from the perspectives of Little Bee and Sarah. Little Bee’s voice as a Nigerian refugee has been captured perfectly. Her ordeals evoke empathy and shock. Then there is Sarah who is far from perfect. Yet, she is a likeable character for all her flaws. Their relationship and the manner in which they met is slowly revealed through the book, building suspense and emotional investment for the reader. With themes about the treatment of asylum seekers in Britain, issues about British colonisation, globalisation, political violence and personal accountability, this is a highly moving and recommended book.

My rating:

The Other Hand (2008) by Chris Cleave {Sold as Little Bee in USA and Canada}

378 pp, Sceptre (Hodder & Stoughton, UK), $24.99 rrp

***This has been reviewed as part of Erin’s Book Challenge 4.o {A book 200 pages long} and Outdo Yourself reading challenge by Corinne***

Until next time,


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