SDR Book of the Week: The Death of Bees

Death of Bees, TheThe Death of Bees, by Lisa O’Donnell. Harper, 309 pp. $25.99

I know they say not to judge books by covers, but I doubt I’m the only guilty one. Either way, I don’t feel bad. My reasoning is the publisher will put more effort into the books they feel are worth said effort.

I was so right with Lisa O’Donnell’s The Death of Bees.

Marnie and Nelly are children, sisters, whose parents die within days of each other. If they report their parents’ demise, they will be taken in by the state and, undoubtedly, separated. Their parents weren’t that great to begin with, as stated by the first line of the book:

Today is Christmas Eve. Today is my birthday. Today I am 15. Today I buried my parents in the backyard. Neither of them were beloved.

The beginning line reminded me of the first line from Emma Donoghue’s Room, another book I fell in love with right from the beginning.

The story is told from three perspectives: 15-year-old Marnie, her younger sister Nelly, and the mysterious neighbor Lennie, who begins to care for the girls after noticing their parents haven’t been around for a while. The separate perspectives bring such dynamic to the story. Each voice is unique. Often, the story is told through the reactions of the characters to the situations they’re in.

Together, Marnie, Nelly and Lennie become a secretive family of sorts. Lennie leans on the girls for the companionship he lost with the death of his partner, and Marnie and Nelly lean on him for the structure and devotion they never had with their biological parents.


About katepadilla

I write for the Spencer Daily Reporter in Spencer, Iowa. I keep blogs lifebythebooks, Save Me, San Francisco, and Beauty and Beast Buy a House. I'm also hard at work writing a short story collection inspired by the music of Train.

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