Available November 23, 2011
“A novel’s true and lasting worth is found in its ability
to open the human heart.”
-- from the Introduction to the Tenth Anniversary Edition of
The Secret Life of Bees
To mark the tenth anniversary of The Secret Life of Bees, Penguin is publishing an elegant, keepsake edition of the novel that becomes available tomorrow, November 23. Charged with writing an Introduction for it, I pulled out ten plastic bins I’d filled with all things Bees. The bins were my so-called archival, filing system. Basically, I opened the lid and dropped stuff in. It was very easy, but it also produced ten boxes of anarchy. Sifting through the contents, I found half-forgotten documents, letters, journals, ephemerae of all kinds, from the strange to the wondrous. In the wondrous category, there was this from a twelve-year old girl who had read the book:
Dear Ms. Kidd,
I didn’t know I could have so many feelings at once. My mother left, too. All I wanted was her to be there. Lily found a family in the last place anybody would think. That gives me hope. Thank You.
After plying myself with a decade’s worth of memories, I took up my keyboard and wrote the Introduction, answering some of the most frequently asked questions I’d received about the novel over the last ten years. Did you ever expect the book would find the kind of reception it did? How did you come up with the idea? What did you think of the movie? How has your life changed as a result of The Secret Life of Bees? In the end, though, it was the readers I came back to, writing about their effect on my life. Sifting through the plastic bins had caused me to realize that Bees had not changed me so much as its readers had— from book groups, to students, to the “Bee Girls” in Botswana, to twelve year old Kat, along with all the others who read the story of Lily and shared their experiences with me.
The whole thing made me want to be more in touch. So, a couple of months ago, I joined the Twitter world, which is almost as astonishing to me as the fact Bees is ten years old. Like my archival bins, the world of Twitter runs from the strange to the wondrous, but in the midst of it, readers and I are forging something of a community, and I’m finding a new connection with them. By all means, join us, if you’re inclined, but regardless of that...
I hope you’ll find this new anniversary edition to be a keepsake to pass on or a gift to give. Most of all thanks for ten years!