I did not start at the beginning, and sometimes I got swept away by the story and forgot, but these are a portion of the quotes I noticed and loved from The Secret Life of Bees (with page numbers–you’re welcome).
“The only thing I could compare it to was the feeling I got one time when I walked back from the peach stand and saw the sun spreading across the late afternoon, setting the top of the orchard on fire while darkness collected underneath. Silence had hovered over my head, beauty multiplying in the air, the trees so transparent I felt I could see through to something pure inside them. My chest had ached then, too, this very same way” (71).
“I couldn’t help but envy the way a good storm got everyone’s attention” (75).
“The secret of a good lie is don’t overly explain, and throw in one good detail” (76).
“‘Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can’t remember who we are or why we’re here.'” -August Boatwright (107)
“It was the in-between time, before day leaves and night comes, a time I’ve never been partial to because of the sadness that lingers in the space between going and coming. August gazed at the sky where the moon was rising, large and ghostly and silver.
‘Look at her good, Lily,’ she said, ”cause you’re seeing the end of something.’
‘Yes, you are, because as long as people have been on this earth, the moon has been a mystery to us. Think about it. She is strong enough to pull the oceans, and when she dies away, she always comes back again. My mama used to tell me Our Lady lived on the moon and that I should dance when her face was bright and hibernate when it was dark.’
August stared at the sky a long moment and then, turning toward the house, said, ‘Now it won’t ever be the same, not after they’ve landed up there and walked around on her. She’ll be just one more big science project.’
I thought about the dream I’d had that night Rosaleen and I slept by the pond, how the moon had cracked to pieces. August disappeared into the house, and Rosaleen headed for her cot in the honey house, but I stayed on and stared at the sky, imagining Ranger 7 blasting away for it.
I knew one day I would go back into the parlor when no one was around and touch the Lady’s heart. Then I would show August the picture of my mother and see if the moon broke loose and fell out of the sky” (113-114).
“Quietness has a strange, spongy hum that can nearly break your eardrums” (134).
“‘Some things happen in a literal way, Lily. And then other things, like this one, happen in a not-literal way, but they still happen. Do you know what I mean? …What I mean is that the bees weren’t really singing the words from Luke, but still, if you have the right kind of ears, you can listen to a hive and hear the Christmas story somewhere inside yourself. You can hear silent things on the other side of the everyday world that nobody else can.'” August (144)
‘”You know, some things don’t matter that much, Lily. Like the color of a house. How big is that in the overall scheme of life? But lifting a person’s heart–now that matters. The whole problem with people is…they know what matters, but they don’t choose it. You know how hard that is, Lily? I love May, but it was still so hard to choose Caribbean Pink. The hardest thing on earth is choosing what matters.'” August (147)
“Every human being on the face of the earth has a steel plate in his head, but if you lie down now and then and get still as you can, it will slide open like elevator doors, letting in all the secret thoughts that have been standing around so patiently, pushing he button for a ride to the top. The real troubles in life happen when those hidden doors stay closed for too long. But that’s just my opinion” (170).
“I saw a shiny film across her eyes–the beginning of tears. Looking at her eyes, I could see a fire inside them. It was a hearth fire you could depend on, you could draw up to and get warm by if you were cold, or cook something on that would feed the emptiness in you. I felt like we were all adrift in the world, and all we had was the wet fire in August’s eyes. But it was enough” (181).
“He bent his face close to mine and kissed me. At first it was like moth wings brushing my lips, then his mouth opening on mine. I gave way against him. He kissed me gently, but at the same time hungrily, and I liked how he tasted, the scent of his skin, the way his lips opened and closed, opened and closed. I was floating on a river of light escorted by fish. Jeweled with fish. And even with so much beautiful aching inside my body, with life throbbing beneath my sin and the rushing ways of love taking over, even with all of that, I could feel the fish dying against my heart” (230).
“When we’d first come out onto the porch, the sky had been clotted with stars, the Milky Way shining like an actual road you could walk down and find your mother standing at the end of with her hands on her hips” (248).
“‘And when you get down to it, Lily, that’s the only purpose grand enough for a human life. Not just to love–but to persist in love.'” August (289)