The Death of Bees: A Novel by Lisa O’Donnell

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The Death of Bees is my next review from my Rainbow Cover Reading Challenge.  The cover makes it look kind of nice with the pretty blues and purples, but let me tell you–this is one macabre book!

Two sisters have suffered from their parents neglect and abuse throughout their young lives.  Until one day when their parents die and the girls must learn to fend for themselves.  Not wanting to be put into foster care, they bury their parents and try to get on with life as normal.

Their neighbor, a kindly but ostracized man, sees that the girls need help and he becomes like a grandfather to them.  However, people start asking questions about where their parents are and they are in danger of being separated from the only person who has ever truly nurtured them.

I really liked this book, though it is very macabre and quite raw.  The chapters alternate between being narrated by the sisters and their neighbor, which gives an interesting view of events.  The younger sister, Nelly, has a humorous way of talking which lightens the mood even when talking about horrible things.

A couple of favorite quotes:

“She’s a nasty b**** this Fiona Mullen and is unforgivably rude to Lennie, who quite rightly tells her to go f*** herself while reminding her there is no law prohibiting him from caring for two abandoned children, but this doesn’t matter to her.  He is deemed an inappropriate guardian, whereas my parents who neglected us every day of our waking lives were always deemed appropriate guardians on account of the DNA issue.  No one wants to separate children from their parents, even when their parents are f*****-up delinquents.” (p.256)

“Birds keep chirping and music keeps playing.  Life continues as another life ebbs away.

We have seen death before, Marnie and I, a mountain of ice melting over time, drops of water freezing at your core reminding you every day of that which has vanished, but the despair we know today is a sadness sailing sorrow through every bone and knuckle.” (p. 268)

This book is based in Ireland and has Irish slang and word usage.  That could be a challenge for those who are unused to it.  Also, it incorporates themes of drugs, violence, sex, and homosexuality.  If you’re very uncomfortable with those things, you might want to skip this book.

Possible Objections:

  • Lots of bad language
  • Violence & gore
  • Sexual stuff

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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