Will You Read: The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell
The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell; HarperCollins; 320 pages; January 2, 2013.
Genre: Literary Fiction
Synopsis: Two young sisters bury their recently deceased drug addict parents in the backyard, pretending they are on vacation. This lie does not fool neighbor Lennie, who befriends the girls and provides for them while still keeping their secret. Older sister Marnie falls into her parents’ ways, embracing drugs and dangerous sex, while younger sister Nelly is left to overcome past trauma. When their grandfather comes into the picture, Lennie must protect the girls, keeping one family together while keeping another family member out.
What The Critics Say: As the action reaches a feverish climax, such dark comedy is replaced by nerve-shredding tension, and it’s a testament to O’Donnell’s craft that the reader is thoroughly caught up in the emotional trials and tribulations of her two unlikely heroines. –Doug Johnstone, The Scotsman
Also by this Author: This is O’Donnell’s debut novel, although she has written for television and film in the past, including the British series Hollyoaks.
Books Like This: Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, Push by Sapphire.
My Gut Reaction: Although the events may seem implausible, the characters are grounded in the reality of growing up poor and alone in the slums of Glasgow. Told partly from the girls’ perspective, O’Donnell has a gift for channeling young adults and their language. The parents-under-the-lavender-bush plot doesn’t sound too boring, either. The Death of Bees has every property of an exciting debut novel. Plus, I love the cover art, which certainly still makes a difference in this digital age!