The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell
- Method of Obtaining: I received my copy from the publisher.
- Published by: Harper
- Release Date: 1/2/2013
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.
- I enjoyed The Secret Life of Bees and this book was compared to it in the summary.
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I was surprised at how quickly The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell grabbed my attention. I mean, well, I guess a story that begins with two young girls burying their parents in the backyard will do that to you. But where do you go from there?
The Death of Bees is told from several different perspectives: an older sister, Marnie, who is quite jaded for being as young as she is; a younger sister, Nelly, who sees the world from a completely different perspective; and Lennie, the old man next door who has been labeled a sex offender.
But don’t worry – the book doesn’t take you in that direction. Instead, it introduces something entirely different.
What this book does is take a good hard look at the social system here. It’s telling that young girls, upon the death of the parents, would so fear being split up that they would go through immense horror to avoid that particular horror. The Death of Bees examines how we view child abuse, neglect, sexual predators, and rebellious children. Although the story is rather too neatly wrapped in a bow and handed over on a platter, it does provide an interesting springboard to start conversations about these hard topics. Lisa O’Donnell does an admirable job of bringing them to light, and although I wish she’d left things a bit more open-ended (as you cannot solve all of these issues in a mere 300ish pages) I understand why she finished the book the way she did.
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