Thursday, June 20, 2013

Recommended read: The Death of Bees

Warning: this book will not be for everyone. The Death of Bees, a debut novel by Scottish author Lisa O'Donnell, is written in internal monologue, or conversational style, with the three main characters' voice in short alternating chapters. Some words or phrases may be unfamiliar to an American reader, but in context, you'll be able to understand the meaning. I will also note, that the author does use profanity throughout, but it is true to the characters.

Marnie and her sister Nelly are left to fend for themselves after their parents' death. Marnie, soon to turn 16 (age of legal capacity in Scotland), wants to keep her sister with her, so she doesn't report their deaths. A horrible childhood is plainly stated by Marnie, but she only alludes to despicable actions on both parent's parts, so you are left to fill in the blanks. Their neighbor, Lennie, sees the girls struggling and becomes their defacto caretaker over time. As a group they try to protect one another from the suspicions of friends and family on the whereabouts of the parents.

You see events through the eyes of each character and it's interesting to see how each interprets situations. How age, past experience, and temperament color their perceptions. Your opinions of the girls and Lennie keep shifting with each new chapter. This is a character study more than a mystery, but there are a few bombshells along the way casually thrown in. The chronology is loose - the book is divided into each season for the year. Fans of Gillian Flynn (specifically her book Dark Places) may enjoy this book, as the structure and style is similar.

The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell
Find it in the catalog!