Sue Monk Kidd has written a touching, coming of age story set in a newly segregated South Carolina in the sixties. Orphaned at age four, Lily Owens lives with a harsh and neglectful father whose form of punishment, beside the usual backhander, is to force her to kneel on hard grits for hours at a time. A pair of white gloves and a picture of a Black Madonna are the only connections Lily has left of her dead mother. Her nanny and surrogate black mother, Rosaleen, gets into trouble with the law when she tries to exercise her right to register her vote. Fourteen-year-old Lily sneaks Rosaleen away from the clutches of the police and they escape detection by living with three black sisters who operate a bee keeping outfit.
This is a moving story of a young girl searching for clues to validate her dead mother's love. The author's style is brilliant and her characters vivid and endearing. After rereading this book twice, I can, with great confidence, recommend it to both teens and adults, and to teachers who are looking for a great class read that will present both the historical and emotional spirit of that era.