I listened to the audio version of Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton Fusco. Published in 2013, this story is set during WWII.
Bee, the main character, works for a carnival. She is an orphan who lives with a young woman who also works for the carnival. The carnival owner is unpleasant, and Bee faces ridicule and poor treatment because she has a diamond shaped birthmark on her face.
As an adult, I found the first section of the story a bit slow and repetitive, but I think the story works for a younger reader. Bee wants nothing more to do than be invisible and find a home for herself and Pauline, the woman she lives with in the back of a truck.
This story has elements of the supernatural, which the little girl me loves. There are parallels to the story of Heidi. Fusco ties many threads together to create one big story.
The reader will encounter bullying, the loss of loved ones, caring for animals, taking care of others, friendships, WWII, disabilities and the treatment of them during that time period.
I liked the development of Bee's character over the course of the story. She is painfully aware of her face and tries to hide herself behind her hair. She learns how to be brave and stand up for herself. She is teachable and remembers what Pauline and Bobby have taught her as she goes out into the world on her own. As time goes on, you see her begin to rely less on them and more on herself.
She takes good care of her pets. I was glad the author paid attention to how the animals were treated. Bee doesn't always make the choices others may want her to make, but she tries her best, and learns from her mistakes. Although she has had a hard life, she is able to see that others have also faced great turmoil.
As I child, I would have loved reading about a girl who has to find inner strength in order to succeed.
Read to a child today even if that child is you.
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