Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell

I heard a few good reviews for this book and new year new chance to jump on the train early for the good reads of the year, right? Plus the cover.

It's a probably a good thing I waited to read this once I was out of my happy holiday haze and back into the world is a cold brutal place mode, because one of the very first things that happens is they drag their dead parents decaying bodies all over the house and things pretty much go everywhere. It is very gross. But I'm getting ahead of myself a little bit here.

This books is about Marnie and Nelly and their next door neighbor Lennie. Marnie and Nelly are like 15 and 12 and their parents are awful. Their dad molests them and their mom is an addict, and their life in general is just terrible. But we only know them through the eyes of Marnie and Nelly because they are dead when the book opens. And it takes awhile to really learn why/how, like almost the whole book. So if you decide to read this don't worry too much about that.

Anyway, they bury their parents in the backyard and try to hide the reality of where they are. But it's not so easy, because Gene, their dad, owes a lot of money to someone. And it's drug money which makes everything very complicated. Lennie, their next door neighbor, is a registered sex offender, but really he's just an elderly gay man who once propositioned a teenage prostitute--without realizing how young he was. This doesn't make it right, of course. In fact, Lennie's own awareness of this--the fact that he knows why what he did was wrong (putting his own needs above the kid's) is part of what endeared him so much to me as a character. Anyway, he becomes a bit like a stand-in father to the girls.

This book is pretty gritty, there's no nice glossing over of anything but it's pretty engaging as well, I read it all relatively quickly. And for the most part I liked it, but..I do think it's interesting that it's like a story about these two teenage girls and all THE MEN in their lives. There is only really ever one adult woman mentioned who has an interest in them, their guidance counselor, but it's not like she takes a true active interest in their lives. But there are ALL kinds of men. So that's kind of interesting/odd/sad.

An enjoyable read with some dark humor and nice writing but unlikely to stay with me for a long time. Gorgeous cover, though!

Rating: 3.75/5
Things You Might Want to Know: profanity, violence, all of it
Source of Book: Received from publisher for review
Publisher: Harper


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