Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Death of Bees-Lisa O'Donnell

The Death of Bees

Lisa O'Donnell

Harper, Jan 3 2013, $25.99

ISBN: 9780062209849

In Glasgow, fifteen year old Marnie Doyle comes home to find her father dead from suffocation inside the family house and her mother hung in the outdoor shed. Marnie tells her eleven year old sister Nelly. Neither wants foster care; so they agree to inter their negligent abusive parents Gene and Isabel in the yard and pretend the deceased are in Turkey until Marnie turns sixteen and can legally become her sibling’s guardian. Knowing the druggies that Gene and Isabel are, everyone including Mick the ice cream vender drug dealer demanding payment from their dad buys the temporary abandonment belief.

Their lonely gay neighbor Lennie the “pervert” pariah realizes what is going on and begins feeding and sheltering the sisters. Meanwhile Mick finds the passports of his two missing customers so he knows something is not right. When Lennie’s dog finds the buried bones, he reinters them in his yard. Finally the kids’ estranged maternal grandfather Robert T. MacDonald visits his offspring seeking redemption from his daughter for abandoning her twice but is nasty towards his grandchildren. As their plan unravels, Marnie and Nelly also navigate school.

The Death of Bees is a fascinating relationship drama starring two young victims of parental neglect and abuse. The intriguing storyline rotates perspective between Lennie and the sisters so that the audience receives a more rounded view of events. Although Nelly’s voice feels off key, readers who enjoy a gritty extended family Scottish street lit drama will appreciate redemption vs. abuse of two young sisters trying to shine brightly in a dark environs.

Harriet Klausner

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