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by Lisa O'Donnell

Download The Death of Bees eBook
Lisa O'Donnell
William Heinemann (April 15, 2013)
304 pages
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1680 kb
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1653 kb
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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.
  • Grarana
I saw this title about 4 years ago and placed in on my wish list and recently I saw it on special for 1.99 so I got it. I do not know the author but have always thought the story sounded interesting. This book did not disappoint and I loved everything about it. The story is set in Scotland. Marnie and Nelly are the unfortunate children of Izzy (Mom) and Gene (Dad) junkies who really had no regard for their children. Gene dies and shortly after finding him Izzy hangs herself and leaves her 15 year old Marnie and 12 year old Nelly to fend for themselves. The children do what they have to in order to avoid being placed in the care of Social Services. I loved Nelly's quirkiness and Marnie's will to survive and take care of Nelly. I loved Lennie, his dog Bobby and Vlado. This book was very well written and I would recommend to others.
  • Skrimpak
This is not a "feel good" book. It's a gritty depiction of the damage that happens in abusive and neglectful families. But.. it will stay with me a long time, The characters and situations are true to life, messy even. I loved the ending - just enough happy to be believed without sugar coating. Two smart children bury their parents, live on their own for a short time then move in with a neighbor, cope with all the troubled situations they inherit from their parents and finally escape. You won't find this in the romance section at Walmart.
  • Bloodray
At first, after a few chapters I was wondering if I even wanted to bother continuing reading this book as at first the characters (the sisters and in particular Marnie the oldest ) were a bit off-putting and the language was quite something for a 15 year old. But, I thought I would give it a chance and fell in love with the book and the humanity of their next door neighbor Lennie and how he cared for and loved these two girls and how they coped with the horrors of their lives. What puzzles me is the child care system - Marnie did all she could to prevent she and her sister Nelly from being taken into the care of the child welfare system until she reached the age of 16. But, is this how the system works in Scotland? Does the government allow a 16 old with no means of income to be responsible for a 12 or 13 year old sibling?
  • Nuadador
Having just read a disgusting new novel on the subject of parental neglect, I was reluctant to start The Death of Bees. I had bought it thinking it had an environmental theme. Well, it does. It’s about nurturing children or not nurturing them, and the tangled network of influences on children’s lives. We all carry burdens placed on us by familial and social expectations and blunders. This smart writer has captured the essence of that while demonstrating that someone also burdened can blow on the embers of a child’s self respect and the warmth envelopes both of them. The story is told in turns by different characters, so we get a fuller illumination on one incident. It makes the storyline twist and turn. There’s love in this depiction of a rather bleak Glasgow.
  • romrom
It will not surprise anyone to know that in the first few pages a couple of young sisters bury their parents in the garden of their ramshackle house. How this came about and how they managed their lives thereafter kept me enthralled for the duration of this book.

The older girl, Marnie, hopes that she can maintain the fantasy that the parents are just out on one of their usual irresponsible larks until she turns sixteen and can legally make decisions for herself and her sister. In the meantime she works at sketchy jobs for strange people to keep the two of them fed, always in fear of the social work department. They both attend school and keep their secret to themselves, managing to fool even the gay sex offender who lives next door. He turns out to be a hero where one is seriously needed. The author has cleverly included a certain amount of grizzly and hilarious detail, and a villain who could turn out to be a savior as well as a savior who could turn out to be a villain. Although this sounds really gritty, and it is, it is also funny and strangely positive.

There is a lot to be learned about the parents of the two girls and how the daughters managed to become so self-sufficient. The younger girl, 12 year old Nellie, is a brilliant musician but really strange, and speaks in a stilted Victorian English, while the older girl is also brilliant but very savvy in a 21st century way. They don’t always get along, but they desperately care for and protect one another.

The story is told in the voices of each character, Marnie and Nellie, and the next door neighbor, Lennie. The sections are short and back each other up with details not shared with anyone but the reader. Although the story is engrossing and the characters are fascinating the moral imperatives of parenting, and our responsibilities to ourselves and others are underlying themes. Yes, it does take a village. Do read this unusual and disarming book.
  • Mr_Jeйson
After the death of their parents Marnie does her best to keep up appearances and support herself and her sister, Nelly. She fears being taken from her sister if Social Services knows they are orphans. Their neighbor,Lennie, a elderly man who is gay , sees their plight and becomes their friend and caringly protects them. I liked the way the story was told by presenting their thoughts individually, as if each one was speaking to you personally. It is a pretty gritty world they live in and nothing is held back in the narrative.
  • Anyshoun
The first several chapters were so depressing, I almost put the book down. However, as the storyline progressed it truly ranks as one of the most unusual, riveting novels I've read in a while. The characters are well drawn and hopefully there are no "parents" on earth like the ones portrayed in this novel. The two main teenage girls are a wonder. Maybe not everyone's cup of tea but give it a try.