Title: The Other Hand (aka Little Bee)
Author Chris Cleve
Genre: General Fiction
The Blurb: Using alternating first-person perspectives, the novel tells the stories of Little Bee, a Nigerian refugee, and Sarah, a magazine editor from Surrey. After spending two years detained in a British immigration detention centre, Little Bee is illegally released after a fellow refugee performs sexual favours for a detention officer. After ringing Andrew to say she is coming Little Bee travels to the home of Sarah and her husband Andrew, whom she met two years previously on a beach in the Niger Delta. Andrew, haunted by guilt of their shared past, commits suicide. Little Bee arrives on the day of Andrew’s funeral, and helps her to care for Sarah and Andrew’s four-year-old son Charlie. The rest of the book fills in the backgrounds of all concerned, before they met, how they met and what happens next.
My Thoughts: I was brought up in Nigeria, so always grab a book that is either set in Nigeria, or written by a Nigerian Author. THE OTHER HAND is brutal at times, but the cruelty of the scenario of how the main characters met is very believable. This does happen – every day – in Nigeria, and other parts of the world. It is the dirt shoved under the carpet; but every so often someone lifts the corner of the carpet and the dirt is revealed. The fate of Little Bee as an asylum seeker is portrayed very realistically. The first world conception of whether it is safe for a refugee to be returned to their own country is not always backed up by an understanding of the real situation and in their naivety, or stupidity, some asylum seekers are made to return, often to meet their doom. However the people who make those decisions are doing the best they can with the information available to them, and deciding who goes, and who stays, is not a job I would like.
Author, Chris Cleve, uses THE OTHER HAND to make a political statement about the plight of all refugees, with little Bee acting as a sort of ‘everyman’, although the outcome of her story is not an across the board outcome for asylum seekers. THE OTHER HAND is confrontational for those of us who live easy lives in countries that attract refugees and asylum seekers, like here in Australia. Is it so wrong to want to better your life? Many people emigrate to the USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia to better their life. Is it because refugees who sneak into countries are considered to be queue jumpers that their plight is ignored? Because it is only the desperate who try to escape at any cost – and often with nothing to their name, and the desperate need to be helped.
My one complaint and the reason for a B rather than an A – was the ending. I have his two other books on my TBR pile and expect high things of them.
Rating: B – A really, really good read
More about the Author – Click Here