Fourteen-year-old Lily Melissa Owens is the main character and protagonist of the novel “The Secret Life of Bees” by Sue Monk Kidd. She lives in Sylvan, South Carolina on a peach farm. Lily Owens has without a doubt, gone through serious trauma in a short amount of time. To give a general idea, she accidentally killed her mother and has an abusive father, who goes by T. Ray, who brutally mistreats her. When Lily was only four-years-old, she unexpectedly killed her mother after witnessing a fight between her parents. Soon after, she decided to leave her home with her caretaker Rosaleen. Lily has been worn out from her father’s inhumane actions yet she realized the amount of injustice her nanny Rosaleen gets, encouraging her to become stronger mentally.
Rosaleen has taught Lily to become more independent and helped her majorly to get out of the hole she dug from all the cruel punishments given by her father. This leads to Lily’s coming of age experience. Coming of age is all about self-discovery and overcoming obstacles in your youth years. Throughout the whole novel, Lily has many experiences leading to her coming of age experience as a whole. She has gone through most things many of her age have never experienced. Lily has felt an abundance of guilt and even confusion from her accident in the past. Lily has done some things without her father knowing to avoid any more abuse. Because of this, she knew she had to leave before he found out and gave her any more pain. I believe this was one of the main paths of her coming of age as she made her own decision to leave T. Ray, leading her to become an independent young woman.
Lily has matured a lot since finding out the truth about her mother. She thought her mother Deborah left her when she was young but the truth was soon revealed when Lily asked her father after being asked to come back if she really killed her mother on accident and he said yes. This caused her to finally learn about forgiveness now having no secrets about her past. Lily really learned that being able to understand her past and learn about forgiveness truly led her to maturity in her life.
I do believe that these learnings of universal value to the readers who read this book. As a young teen myself, I can say that I had my “coming of age” experience and hadn’t experienced it to the fullest yet. Moving to a different country almost three years ago has changed my life in many ways. My family and I came across many obstacles in our lives but we managed to fight against it. Although I feel that there is more coming towards me and I think my only goal at the end is to fully understand myself while maturing. Most readers of this novel “The Secret Life of Bees” are younger teens just like me who have and will go through more obstacles in life, coming of age.
This novel allowed me to relate in a sense with Lily Owens and understand the experiences that she went through that I have never experienced before. The Secret Life of Bees really encouraged my brain to think deeper about the story and this really changed my outlook on our society. We all evolved and I think the act of forgiveness is something we can all learn. This is one of those stories that makes you feel all kinds of emotions and I tried to put myself in her shoes just to try and feel how she would’ve felt but never necessarily going through what she has gone through made it quite difficult. I have gotten a deeper understanding of what actually coming of age experiences can be.