Book Review: “The Death of Bees” by Lisa O’Donnell.

the death of bees

Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 308
Genre: Adult, Fiction, Mystery, Coming of Age
Price: $25.99
Format: Character Split (3), 5 Parts (rotating seasons)

Find It: Amazon  /  Goodreads  /  Author Website

First Line: “Izzy called me Marnie after her mother.”

Description from Book:
Today I buried my parents in the backyard. Neither of them were beloved. A riveting, brilliantly written début 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.

Topics Covered: family relationships, love, family secrets, dysfunctional relationships, dysfunctional families, self-growth, death

My Review: I won a copy of this book through Leeswammes’ Blog during a blog hop giveaway. The copy I won was an advanced reading copy and the book is set to be published 1/2/13.

“The Death of Bees” by Lisa O’Donnell traces the life of three main characters: Marnie, the 15 year old sister who is mixed up in all the wrong things: drugs, dealers, sex with older men, truancy, etc. Nelly, the younger sister, whose speech, interests, and behaviors are eccentric and odd, to say the least. And Lennie, an older next door male whose name was tarnished years ago after a mix-up with an underage prostitute. Marnie and Nelly’s dysfunctional parents, Izzy and Gene, pass away and the book follows the challenges Marnie, Nelly, and Lennie face to keep the girls out of the social services system.

I absolutely, completely adored this book, the characters, and the story line. Marnie and Nelly’s portions of the book are written from their personal viewpoints, tracing their beliefs, thoughts, and feelings. Lennie’s portions of the book are written as if he is talking with, or writing a letter to, his deceased partner. Through the first hand accounts from three characters, the reader is drawn closer and forms feelings and concerns about the main characters.

The writing style of the book is straight forward and easy to read. The reader feels as though they are listening to the private thoughts or reading the secret journals of Marnie, Nelly, and Lennie. As the girls face challenges throughout the book, the reader finds themselves praying the dead parents aren’t found and the odd, but comfortable, family relationship that formed between Lennie and the girls survives.

The book covers a plethora of topics, but the main plot hovers around coming-of-age issues for Marnie and Nelly, and end of life and past regrets for Lennie. There were times in the book I was fearful the author would not be able to wrap up the dysfunction to result in a satisfying ending; however, I was extremely wrong. The first three-quarters of the book moves slowly, going through the seasons of the year and tracing the new challenges and lies that come about. The last quarter of the book moves more rapidly, bringing the reader to an ending that will satiate the thirst for the characters’ well-being.

Overall Rating: 5/5

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

6 responses to “Book Review: “The Death of Bees” by Lisa O’Donnell.

  1. I love when you review books. You are so good at giving a description of the story and making it completely appealing. I will be checking this book as soon as I can.

  2. Hi Caitlin. Thanks for this great review- you shared this book over at the “My Favorite Things” giveaway on my blog. Guess what? You won! I sent you an e-mail in December- please let me know your address so I can mail you your prize!

  3. Pingback: Book Review: The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell |

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