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The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell
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The Death of Bees (original 2013; edition 2012)

by Lisa O'Donnell

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6677914,382 (3.87)46
Member:TooBusyReading
Title:The Death of Bees
Authors:Lisa O'Donnell
Info:William Heinemann (2012), Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Read, Your library, ARC
Rating:*****
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The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell (2013)

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English (78)  German (1)  All languages (79)
Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
From the very first page I fell in love with The Death of Bees, the debut novel of Lisa O’Donnell. Fifteen year old Marnie decides not to report the death of her parents and instead she and her sister, eleven year old Nellie, bury them in the back garden. The girls do not want to be separated or go into foster care. They tell everyone that their parents have gone to Turkey and this lie is easily accepted as the parents are druggies that have left their children alone before. The girls are haunted by their experience and while Nellie has nightmares, Marnie takes to drinking, and casual sex. Eventually the girls are befriended by Lennie, the elderly gay man next door and these three, along with Bobby the dog, bond together as a family. All is well until their grandfather shows up demanding explanations and wanting the girls to come live with him.

One of the things I absolutely loved about this book were the voices of the two girls, Marne in her own way was sensible and practical with very modern sensibilities while Nellie was romantic, hilarious and old-fashioned. What was very clear was that these girls loved and cared about each other. Although rather gruesome in places, the author had a light, sympathetic style and although the subject matter was at times appalling there was an element of black humor that made this story really appealing to me.

While this book won’t appeal to everyone, it was a stellar read for me. I found it both original and imaginative. My emotions were quickly engaged and The Death of Bees became a book that I couldn’t put down and one of my favorite reads of 2016. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | May 14, 2016 |
"Today is Christmas Eve. Today is my birthday. Today I am fifteen. Today I buried my parents in the backyard. Neither of them were beloved."
What a sentence to start a story with!!

Nelly and Marnie, two sisters who are alone now and dont want to be with anyone else or most importantly foster care.
A neighbor who is also alone and draws towards these sisters and a family is created. And how the lies go on building one upon another and life goes on with it's own adventure along with these sisters is a story to read.
( )
  PallaviSharma | May 9, 2016 |
"I try to remember the last time I saw him and think of him on his bike by the Clyde laughing at nothing in particular. In my mind I snap this image and store it in my memory. It's where I keep everyone who's important to me." Those lines say so much about the lives of the two girls in this book, Marnie and Nelly, sisters abused by their parents, abandoned by them and society, and left to make their way as they can in order to stay together. The story is told from three points of view - Marnie, Nelly, and Lennie, a neighbor who is the only one who notices that the girls seem to be be alone and struggling to survive. They can't apply for the dole because to do so would be to alert the authorities to their plight and Social Services would probably separate them, especially because Marnie is only a year from her majority. Lennie has problems of his own, but embraces the girls and offers them a safe place to stay and good food and a vacation away from reality, which they sorely need. This is not a cheerful story, but it's not completely depressing either. The voices of the girls and Lennie seem realistic and their problems are likewise. I enjoyed this book more than I would have expected. A worthy debut novel. ( )
  whymaggiemay | May 6, 2016 |
[b:Lullabies for Little Criminals|22207|Lullabies for Little Criminals|Heather O'Neill|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1327893204s/22207.jpg|23263] meets [b:The Cement Garden|9957|The Cement Garden|Ian McEwan|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1166111732s/9957.jpg|1189398].
The horrible alcoholic parents of two young teenage girls die within a day of each other, one by the hand of his wife, and then the wife by her own hand out in the garden shed.
Their children have little sympathy for the deaths. Their life of neglect and abuse have toughened them, and they know that if the authorities become aware of the loss of their parents then they will be taken into 'care' by the social services, a highly undesirable result. So after being prompted by the smell and mess of progressive decomposition, they bury the dead in the garden. Under the lavender. It is a gruesomely funny scene.
The story is told in alternating voices of the two sisters and their old gay neighbour who becomes entwined in their lives. The voice of the older sister is convincing; she is teenagerly-tough and funny and still vulnerable. Other characters become interesting when they turn out differently from our preconceptions.
Despite the nature of the story, it's surprisingly light and funny. A good summer read. ( )
  TheBookJunky | Apr 22, 2016 |
Okay, I am torn. I didn't like it but I didn't hate it. I'm in this middle ground which is just 'huh'. The truth is the story is just depressing. The kind of depressing that is truly weighed down, without the underlying comfort of something beautiful or the smallest amount of hope. What I did like was the unique style of writing and the alternating viewpoints were wonderfully done and distinctly different in voice and tone. Wonderful writing. But in the end I was just left feeling bereft. I'm not warning anyone off this book, I'm merely giving my experience with it. So if it sounds like something you might like, I hope you find more in it than I did.
Also a warning to those who need it: This book is harsh in language, sexual transgress (tho not in an overly descriptive way) and most situations. ( )
  mashiaraqcs | Mar 29, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lisa O'Donnellprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jacobs, StefanieÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Risvik, KariTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Risvik, KjellTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my children Max and Christie
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Izzy called me Marnie after her mother. She's dead now, actually they're both dead.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0434021474, Paperback)

Hazlehurst housing estate, Glasgow, Christmas Eve 2010. Fifteen-year-old Marnie and her little sister Nelly have just finished burying their parents in the back garden. Only Marnie and Nelly know how they got there. Lennie, the old guy next door, has taken a sudden interest in his two young neighbours and is keeping a close eye on them. He soon realises that the girls are all alone, and need his help -- or does he need theirs?

As the year ends and another begins, the sisters' friends, their neighbours, and the authorities -- not to mention the local drug dealer, who's been sniffing around for their father -- gradually start to ask questions. And as one lie leads to another, darker secrets about Marnie's family come to light, making things even more complicated.

Written with fierce sympathy and beautiful precision, The Death of Bees is an enchanting and grimly comic tale of three lost souls who, unable to answer for themselves, can answer only for each other.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:48 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Trying to keep the death of their parents a secret, Marnie and her little sister Nelly are on their own until several residents in Glasgow's Hazelhurst housing estate suspect that something is not right.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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