(Review) The Death of Bees
The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell
Publication Date: January 2, 2013
Pages: 320 (hardcover)
My Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars
A riveting, brilliantly written debut novel-a coming-of-age story with the strong voice and powerful resonance of Swamplandia! and The Secret Life of Bees—in which two young sisters attempt to hold the world at bay after the mysterious death of their parents.
Today is Christmas Eve. Today is my birthday. Today I am fifteen. Today I buried my parents in the backyard. Neither of them were beloved.
Marnie and her little sister Nelly are on their own now. Only they know what happened to their parents, Izzy and Gene, and they aren’t telling. While life in Glasgow’s Hazlehurst housing estate isn’t grand, they do have each other. Besides, it’s only one year until Marnie will be considered an adult and can legally take care of them both.
As the new year comes and goes, Lennie, the old man next door, realizes that his young neighbors are alone and need his help. Or does he need theirs? But he’s not the only one who suspects something isn’t right. Soon, the sisters’ friends, their other neighbors, the authorities, and even Gene’s nosy drug dealer begin to ask questions. As one lie leads to another, dark secrets about the girls’ family surface, creating complications that threaten to tear them apart.
Written with fierce sympathy and beautiful precision, told in alternating voices, The Death of Bees is an enchanting, grimly comic tale of three lost souls who, unable to answer for themselves, can answer only for each other.
Okay, so, this book is weird. I've said that about other books and I meant it. But this book is weird in a way that makes a person feel uncomfortable.
So, if you aren't okay with things making you uncomfortable and you get squeamish and stuff like that...don't read this book. Don't even read this review.
This story starts with Marnie and Nelly burying their parents. Yeah, that's the opening scene. It's interesting, though, because it's told from a fifteen-year-old girl's point of view. It's still pretty gross, though. The girls don't take much time to think about how their parents died, they just get rid of them. (And good riddance because they were terrible.)
As the girls try and go about their business Lennie, their neighbor, notices that their parents are gone and invites them over. Lennie is older and kind, he's got a poor reputation in the community because of an incident that happened but the girls don't really seem to care. They both take to Lennie and soon enough it's like they're a little family.
Until their real grandfather shows up, that is.
This book weaves a lot of different tales, but they all come together in the end. Gene, the dad was involved in some bad deal, was abusive to his daughters, and pretty much dragged everyone else down with him. Marnie was on a bad path, that just kept getting worse (this is the uncomfortable part). She was sleeping with a married man who dealt drugs out of his ice cream truck and didn't really have any respect for herself.
Lennie really helps them turn things around, despite the fact that their parents are buried in the backyard. When everything comes to a ahead he is the one who bails them out.
I actually liked this book. It's a good story about becoming a family and sacrificing yourself for others. It deals with some tough subjects, so be prepared.