The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell

beesMarnie and Nelly are teenage sisters who must deal with the sudden deaths of their drug-addicted parents.  At stake is the possibility that they be split up and put into foster care.  Their immediate plan is to bury the bodies in the back garden and pretend that their mom and dad have taken an extended leave of absence.  After all, it wasn’t unusual for the parents to neglect the two girls when they were off on an extended bender, buzz, or meander – sometimes for weeks at a time.

Marnie and Nelly hope this ruse works long enough for Marnie to become sixteen and therefore be legally of age to take care of them both.  However, the outside world is increasingly curious about their wayward parents, including a persistent long-lost relative who has good intentions – or does he?  The most helpful observer of the girls’ plight is Lennie, an elderly gay man who is their nearest neighbor.  He keeps an eye on the two and makes sure they eat properly and have some direction.  As such, Lennie assumes a father role for the sisters.  He has his own issues, though,  and unfortunately his dog has taken a strong attraction to what is buried in the garden next door.

The biggest problem is cash flow, and Marnie has to get creative with money-making, often to her detriment – she has to sell drugs for the local dealer, among other things.  It turns that the sisters’ father had some dealings with this same guy and owed him a fair amount of money.

There is lots of family secrets that reveal themselves through the narrative, which is shared by the three voices of Marnie, Nelly, and Lennie.

The setting of The Death of Bees is in Glasgow, Scotland.  I thought at first that the dialogue would be hard to follow and it wasn’t.  The book does have a hard edge and bite, so it isn’t for the faint-hearted, but the chapters read quickly.   You will be cheering Marnie and Nelly on as they deal with adolescence and some really disturbing circumstances.

(William Hicks, Information Services)


One Response

  1. I REALLY want to read this!

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