Friday, November 8, 2013

TLC Book Tour: The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell (Guest Reviewer)

The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell

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 Maryhill housing estate isn't grand, the girls do have each other. Besides, it's only a 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? Lennie takes them in—feeds them, clothes them, protects them—and something like a family forms. But soon enough, the sisters' friends, their teachers, and the authorities start asking tougher 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 one another.

Cheryl’s review

I heard a review of this book on NPR ( last January and added it to my list of books to read. The opening is attention-grabbing and peaked my interest to read the book.

The book is told from three different voices: Marnie, Nelly, and Lennie. The perspectives change quickly, most are only a few pages (or less) but this doesn’t detract from following the story. Sometimes the same event is told from all three perspectives but generally the story continues to progress when the voice changes.

The Death of Bees is a tragic story and O’Donnell aptly captures the “coming of age” story. Marnie vascillates between her desire to act and be seen as an adult while longing to remain someone’s child. Both Marnie and Nelly constantly search for guidance and parent-substitutes, which they sometimes find unexpectedly and sometimes even in each other.

The story seemed to spiral downward by continually creating more challenges and obstacles for the characters to deal with. As the premise of the book started in a tragic way, that wasn’t surprising and I read wondering how the story would be resolved. The ending was abrupt and went in an unexpected direction, which was a bit jarring. Overall, it was an interesting read. It was tragic and sad but the characters were determined and resourceful. They all had the goal to survive as best as they could and also learned from each other. What perhaps they learned most was about who they really were and the meaning of family.

Author Info:
Visit Lisa at her website, connect with her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

Lisa’s Tour Stops

Wednesday, October 23rd: Peppermint PhD
Friday, October 25th: Booksie’s Blog
Monday, October 28th: she treads softly
Wednesday, October 30th: Book-alicious Mama
Thursday, October 31st: Olduvai Reads
Monday, November 4th: Love at First Book
Tuesday, November 5th: A Bookish Way of Life
Wednesday, November 6th: red headed book child
Thursday, November 7th: From the TBR Pile
Tuesday, November 12th: Peeking Between the Pages
Thursday, November 14th: guiltless reading
Thanks Cheryl!
Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!
red headed book child


trish said...

I love books that explore the meaning of family...probably because I'm always trying to cobble together a family myself. :)

Thanks for being on the tour!

Tales of Whimsy said...

Oh booo that doesn't sound good. I'm thinking I'm glad I passed. Thanks for your great honest review.

Lisa said...

This definitely sounds like something that I'd enjoy - love when stories move back and forth, particularly when you get multiple versions of the same event.