Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell

Book summary(via Goodreads):

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.
This insomniac's opinion: 
Holy macabre beginning, Batman! I am a nurse, so it is pretty hard to turn my stomach. The description of Marnie and Nelly moving their parents bodies at the beginning of this novel was stomach-twisting for me, however. This book may not be for everyone.
I really did enjoy the writing and the pace of this novel. I think that some authors romanticize poverty, so it was oddly refreshing to see this kind of situation represented more honestly. The majority  of this novel is bleak but there are bits of hope woven into the story that prevents the reader from finishing the book in a state of massive depression.
Worth staying up all night to read?
Yes, I really enjoyed it. Definitely not for those who would be troubled by a gritty novel, though.
Rating: 4 stars


  1. I want to read this so bad. Good thing I have a tough stomach! Thanks for the review.

  2. I loved this book-definitely one of my favorites this year