Published by Harper on January 2, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Family, Orphans & Foster Homes, Social Issues
Source: Library Book
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.
For April’s book, Amy picked The Death of Bees. Personally, I was a little sad that she didn’t pick a dinosaur erotica novel like we expected she would. Luckily, the book she did pick turned out to be a really good read.
The Death of Bees had made it on my radar previously because I like creepy and grim books featuring kids who bury their parents in the backyard. Well, I read The Cement Garden, so after reading this book, I guess it’s fair to say that I have a thing for it. Unlike Ian McEwan’s book, there’s no V.C. Andrews style sibling romance, but it’s still good.
The whole group seemed to like this book, which is a pretty amazing feat since we’re all very diverse readers. One thing we loved was the super short chapters and alternating POV with Marnie, Nelly and Lennie. I particularly enjoyed Nelly’s chapters, since her voice was so Katherine Hepburn-ish.
I missed a lot of the conversation, sadly, because I was late and everyone had pretty much agreed that it was a good read. A lot of times when we like a book, we don’t end up talking about it as much. We all liked The Death of Bees, we all thought Lennie’s gesture at the end of the book was touching and that Vlado turned about to be very cool. I personally pictured Vlado as a grown up Victor Krum, but I was alone in that observation.
The Death of Bees makes for a great read, but as far as a discussion book… not so much for us. We tend to find books that make us argue or complain to make for longer discussions. But that’s okay too, because it’s nice when we all like the book. Plus, that leaves more time for us to eat brie and talk about Harry Potter.
Next up: The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist – I’m pretty sure this one will give us lots to discuss!