by Gill Hornsby
There's only room for one Queen Bee: A hilarious and touching novel about the social world of school mothers.It's the start of another school year at St. Ambrose. While the children are busy in the classroom, their mothers are learning sharper lessons. Lessons in friendship. Lessons in betrayal. Lessons in the laws of community, the transience of power...and how to get invited to lunch.
Beatrice -- undisputed queen bee. Ruler, by Divine Right, of all school fundraising, this year, last year, and, surely, for many to come.
Heather -- desperate to volunteer, desperate to be noticed, desperate to belong.
Georgie -- desperate for a cigarette.
And Rachel -- watching them all, keeping her distance. But soon to discover that the line between amused observer and miserable outcast is a thin one.
THE HIVE is a wickedly funny and brilliantly observed story about female friendship, power plays, and the joys and perils (well, mainly perils) of trying to do one's part.
Publication Date: September 10, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown, and Company
This book made me laugh out loud at times. I've seen some criticism online from people who claim that if you're not a mom of a school-age kid that you won't get it, but I don't necessarily agree. You may not be able to relate to it on a personal level, but the story itself is still entertaining, and I think the notion of cliques, or hives, is something that exists outside of the mom group in the schoolyard.
The novel jumps around to the perspectives of the different women in this particular social group, and we get to see the difference between their public personas and their inner thoughts. Each woman is finding her place in an ever changing hierarchy according to the whims of the Queen Bee. Interestingly, we never actually see inside the head of the Queen Bee, which I found annoying at first, but now I think I get it. The novel really was about the Hive, the Worker Bees vying for the attention of the queen, or rebelling against her tyranny, as the case may be. Getting inside the Queen's head would make things all to simple for the reader, so in the end, I think I agree with that choice.
The novel outlines the struggles of all different moms, from the happy stay at home mom who feels she has to hide her happiness as though she should want more, to the mom who stays at home but finds she's bored out of her mind and can't wait to get back into the workforce but is afraid to admit it and be judged an unloving mother. These issues, although only touched on in roundabout ways, were the real gems of this novel for me. The pressures to find the balance that not only works for the woman, but also for her family, and then the need to defend those choices are very real. Check out any forum dedicated to the topic of stay-at-home vs. career mom and some of the accusations and name calling are almost unbelievable. This novel presents some of these issues without making judgment, but rather just lets the issues hang, unspoken, much like how women handle these issues in silence in the read world.
Kat's Rating: A Good Read
It's not a perfect book, and there are some areas where I felt some issues were glossed over, but it was a good read. Fun, with more serious issues lying just under the surface. I thought it raised some interesting issues around women's relationships and the pressures to be perfect.
I received a complimentary copy of this title from NetGalley and the publisher in return for an honest review.