Thursday, January 24, 2013

Review: The Death of Bees

The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Coming of Age
Pages: 336 (paperback)
Source: TLC Book Tours
Author's Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook
Buy it: Amazon | Kindle | B&N | Book Depo

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.
My Rating:

My Review:
Marnie and Nelly are alone.  If I write a normal description, people might think this is a normal book and it isn't.  I want to call it weird but it isn't weird so much as artistic.  It really comes down to how the story is told.  The story is told from the perspective of Marnie, Nelly, and Lennie.  Each chapter has a different perspective and focuses on the year after Marnie and Nelly's parents disappear.  It's a bit different because at times, there is a bit of overlap and the reader might hear about the same incident from multiple points of views.  Perhaps most interesting is how the reader is often mislead because a character believes something that turns out to be untrue.  It's a puzzle but not quite a mystery.  Have I confused you enough?  Essentially, Marnie and Nelly know where their mom and dad are but they hide it because they each believe that the other is guilty of murder.  But it is difficult for them to keep their secret as their parents previous behavior have resulted in the creation of some major issues in both Marnie and Nelly.  Though, both deal differently.  Lenny is a lonely man who has his own issues but who is desperately needed by the girls and he needs them, though they don't quite realize it.

I loved loved this book.  At first, I was a bit skeptical because I realized that the story was told from multiple perspectives and reads like diary entries.  All of the events have occurred and the character is retelling each event and including their thoughts.  But I soon found myself feeling so close to the characters and I felt so connected.  There is a charm to the writing style that really drew me in.  While various events happen in the girls lives, the background story of what their parents were like and what happened to them slowly unfolds.  It's as if it is unintentional and I find that beautiful.  My emotions were high and my instincts were true (most of the time) and I was invested.  There is a bit of heartbreak, sex, and tangy language but it's said in a roundabout way.  Nothing really in your face.

Overall a lovely read once you adjust to style.  It ends up adding a whole new dimension.  Just wonderful.

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  1. Great review.

    Silver's Reviews

  2. This is one I would have passed on but the great reviews has me rethinking. Thanks for the review.

  3. Thank you so much for this review. Everyone is being so supportive of Bees. Good luck with the 2013 Reading Challenge :)

    Best Wishes
    Lisa O'Donnell author

  4. Oh I love when books end up being lovely even though we didn't quite expect it :)

  5. I'm a big fan of multi POVS and from the description this one sounds really intriguing and mysterious. The unreliable narrator can add so much to a story, especially when the real truth ends up trickling out.

    I don't know that I would have picked this up otherwise, but your review has definitely put this one on my radar. I like that is seems different from the normal read.

    1. It is such a gem. I didn't know what to think at first and then I was sucked in.

  6. Lovely isn't exactly the word I first think of when I see a book about orphaned girls burying their parents in the back yard, but it seems that it DOES fit!

    Thanks for being on the tour.

  7. Intriguing title. I love The Secret Life of Bees -- it's one of my all-time favorite books. I like the concept of this story, plus the title catches my interest right away. Great review!

  8. Sounds interesting. I struggle with multiple perspectives (I never know whom to trust and it makes me frustrated) but if it works well, I'm on board. I also like the Glasgow setting - such a cool city! Thanks for the great review.

  9. Thanks for coming by my review. I resisted this one initially but it really grows on you, doesn't it? I loved the multiple perspectives -- I don't think this story would've really worked without it!


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