Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Death of Bees, by Lisa O'Donnell

Marnie and her younger sister Nelly are hiding a huge secret: both of their parents are dead and buried in the garden.  They attempt to maintain some semblance of a normal life, well, normal for them, to avoid getting picked up by social services.  Soon Marnie will be old enough to be Nelly's legal guardian, so hopefully they can hold it together.  Quickly, they attract the attention of their neighbor, Lennie, who decides to take the girls under his wing.  Their lives become intertwined in the most amazing version of a family.

This book is more than just a little disturbing.  These young girls are living in squalor with drug addicts for parents, parents who are so negligent that when they go missing (in reality they are dead) barely anyone notices.  Marnie is wrapped up in a world of drugs, and sex with adult men, while Nelly seems to be dealing with something akin to autism.  All in all, not a pretty picture.  And yet, this books is oddly captivating.

The characters are really memorable.  Marnie and Nelly could not be more different, but because of these differences, each girl lends a unique voice to the story.  I love that we hear the story from both girls, as well as from Lennie, because I felt this provided the reader with a more accurate picture.  

I really liked the examination of the concept of family throughout this story.  Lennie was more family to the girls than they had ever experienced.  They form a ragtag, misfit family, and prove that love can take all shapes and sizes.  In the midst of darkness, ugliness, and chaos, light and love can be found.  The story is gritty, and parts of it are literally painful to read, but I am so glad I stuck with this book.

I received a review copy of this book courtesy of TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.  View the rest of the tour here.

If you liked this review, please rate it (and others!) as helpful on my Amazon profile. My Amazon Profile


  1. My review is up on January 30, and I tend to agree with you.

    Hope you can stop by to see my review on that date.

    Silver's Reviews

  2. I love the exploration of family, and this sounds particularly interesting. I don't think this situation is all that uncommon if you just swap the dead parents for negligent parents.

    Thanks for being on the tour!

  3. Thanks Tiffany. Great review. It was good you to take the time. I am doing a blog tour at the moment. I'm amazed at all these unique pages everyone has. I need to jazz mine up I think :)