I picked this book up with one of my Christmas gift cards. I had not really heard much about it, other than there was a movie coming out about it.
The book takes place in 1964, right at the onset of the Civil Rights Act. It features a 14 year old white girl, Lily, being raised by a harsh, cruel father. Her mother died when she was 4, a memory Lily can't escape. Lily's house servant, Rosaleen, gets into an altercation with white men when black Rosaleen attempts to register to vote. The altercation leads Rosaleen to the hospital guarded by police (she was arrested for assaulting the 3 white men) and leads Lily to break her out and run.
Lily heads towards Tiburon, South Carolina, only because in her dead mother's effects, she finds a cardboard "Black Madonna" with the city's name written in her mother's hand.
In a weird turn of events, she finds that the Black Madonna is the logo for a honey company run by three eccentric and strong black women out of their property. These women let her and Rosaleen into their homes, no questions asked.
These sisters are independent, they are strong in their beliefs and love. August, the eldest, is tall, wise, serene. Although they never speak of her mother directly, August teaches Lily to seek answers about her mother Deborah in the bees, in herself, in her core. June is a musician, she is tough, she does not like Lily from day 1. May is sweet, silly, and a little broken. She feels like she has to take on the entire world's pain by herself. It's heart-breaking. They are each different in how they handle life and they each give Lily lessons in it. Lily learns to live with them, to raise bees, enjoy honey, to pray, to hope, she learns what a loving family is supposed to be and finally understand who her mother really was.