The Death of Bees is a difficult novel to classify. There are elements of mystery from the novel's first lines:
Eugene Doyle. Born 19 June 1972. Died 17 December 2010, aged thirty-eight. Isabel Anne Macdonald. Born 24 May 1974. Died 18 December 2010, aged thirty-six.
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.From here, the story unfolds as part mystery, part contemporary fiction, and part coming of age tale. Marnie and Nelly navigate their lives in some ways quite similar to how they have already been. They must outsmart their neighbors and those searching for their parents. They must learn who to trust. As Marnie and Nelly alternate first-person narratives, the reader slowly learns what happened to Eugene and Isabel. Some days feel quite ordinary for them as teens who can do what they like, while others test their loyalty, strength and will.
Favorite passage: "Of course every girl wishes she could be one of those pop star babes who wave their hands in the air yelling about being survivors but when love sits on one side of you and loneliness on the other, it's hard to stop the touching and the kissing."
The verdict: The Death of Bees is glimpse into the difficult, and often comfortable, grey areas of adolescence, family, friendship and loyalty. Marnie and Nelly enchanted me with their bravery, fierceness and ultimately false bravado. O'Donnell has written a darkly comic novel that utterly enchanted me, and I'm already eagerly awaiting her next work.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Length: 320 pages
Publication date: January 2, 2013
Source: publisher via Edelweiss
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