Friday, March 29, 2013

The Death of Bees; Lisa O'Donnell

Title: The Death of Bees
Author: Lisa O'Donnell
Publication Year: 2012
Harper Collins
Edition: ARC  and eGalley Source: publisher
Setting: Glasgow, Scotland
Date Completed: March - 2013
Rating: 4/5 
Recommend: yes 

This isn't a spoiler as from the very first pages readers learn that two young girls, Marnie and Nellie, 15 and 12 have just buried their their back yard!

"Eugene Doyle Born 19 June 1972. Died 17 December 2010, aged thirty-eight.

Isabel Ann MacDonald. Born 24 May 1974. Died 18 December 2010, aged thirty-six.

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." 
The sisters live in a poor area in Glasgow Scotland, and grew up with abusive and frequently absent, drug addicts for parents. They decide it's best not to report their parents deaths as they don't want to be separated and risk having to go to yet another foster home.
Marnie, the older sister is the primary narrator of this story. She's street smart and one tough wounded child, who hangs with the wrong crowd. She is very protective of sister Nelly.  You can tell when you first hear Nelly's voice that she's intelligent, but something isn't quite right. It seems she may have Asperger's Syndrome, but you never know for sure. The girls have a sweet man named Lennie, living next door to them; he is concerned about the girls. Lennie is grieving the loss of his gay lover, and the fact that he's considered to be a sexual predator,  after propositioning a gay man who turned out to be under the age of consent, has nothing to do with  concern for the girls.
Lennie's a bit strange, but a kind man. He notices that things aren't quite right with the girls when he sees them spending a lot of time digging in their back yard one December. He hasn't seen their parents, but this wouldn't be the first time they took off leaving the girls on their own. Lennie invites Marnie and Nelly over for meals and watches over them. The girls make up excuses for their parent's absence. 
The story is told in short chapters by Marnie, Nelly and Lennie.  Although it's a sad story, it seems so "out there" that if was hard for me to feel sorry for the girls at times. It was still one of those stories that kept me engaged, was fast paced and even better, it had an ending I didn't expect.

For anyone who enjoys a book that is part YA, a bit mystery and also has a different look at life, I’d recommend this book!


  1. This sounds different and intriguing to me!

  2. Loved your review and was very happy to read it! I also got this arc recently and have been looking forward to it but don't know many details. Sounds unusual but interesting!

  3. Hmmmm - this one sounds interesting. I'm adding it to my wish list. Have a nice weekend!

  4. It does sound interesting, Diane. Especially because of the unexpected ending.

  5. I have sure heard lots of good things about this one!

  6. This sounds like a different and touching story. Very nice review, Diane. Have a lovely Easter.

  7. I brought this book home today. Glad to know it was a good read. Happy Easter!

  8. I am glad you liked this one too, Diane! There was so much more to the book than I initially expected. I am glad I read it!

  9. I love books that have a twist in the ending....I want to read this one!

  10. I've seen some mixed reviews of this one, but I still want to read it at some point.

  11. I started this, was liking it, and just never got back to it... I have been really slacking this year!

  12. I'm glad that you liked this one. I do so love a great first line!

  13. I love finding books to read from blogs, even if they don't work out for me. It's like the best kind of book club! :--)

    Irene (Bear Hunts in Alaska)


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