I read "The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd in just one day. I just couldn't put it down.
It's a story set in the South (of the USA) during the fledgling days of the Civil Rights Act, when racism was rampant against the African-Americans. It tells of a motherless girl, Lily, who discovers that family ties can transcend man-made barriers like differences in skin color, and can form even between non-related individuals. She discovers the strength of the human spirit through trinkets of advice from black beekeeper August Boatwright.
Here are some excerpts:
"Well, one time Big Mama told me she went out to the hives on Christmas Eve and heard the bees singing the words of the Christmas story right out of the gospel of Luke...
...What I mean is that the bees weren't really singing the works 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...."
"You know, some things don't matter that much, Lily. Like the color of a house. How big is that in overall scheme of life? But lifting a person't heart - now, that matters. The whole problem with people is-"
"They don't know what matters and what doesn't," I said, filling her sentence and feeling proud of myself for doing so.
"I was gonna say, The problem is they know what matters, but they don't choose it..."
Cynics may find it cliched...but I found it inspirational.