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.
Marnie and her little sister, Nelly, are on their own now. Only they know what happened to their parents, Izzy and Gene, and they aren’t telling. While life in Glasgow’s Maryhill housing estate isn’t grand, the girls do have each other. Besides, it’s only a year until Marnie will be considered an adult and can legally take care of them both.
As the New Year comes and goes, Lennie, the old man next door, realizes that his young neighbors are alone and need his help. Or does he need theirs? Lennie takes them in—feeds them, clothes them, protects them—and something like a family forms. But soon enough, the sisters’ friends, their teachers, and the authorities start asking tougher questions. As one lie leads to another, dark secrets about the girls’ family surface, creating complications that threaten to tear them apart.
Written with fierce sympathy and beautiful precision, told in alternating voices, The Death of Bees is an enchanting, grimly comic tale of three lost souls who, unable to answer for themselves, can answer only for one another.
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ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT
Gifted sisters Marnie and Nelly have buried their abusive parents in the back yard after finding them both dead and with good riddance since they have paid little or no attention to them since either can remember. The brilliant Marnie acts out, using sex, alcohol and drugs to numb herself while her younger sister uses a posh accent and retreats into a world of culture as an unnaturally gifted violinist in defense of their home life. Growing up in state supported housing while their parents receive aid, neither one wants to be put in a foster home, so they devise a plan to stay on their own until Marnie turns sixteen in a year. Their next door neighbor, Lennie, senses something wrong with the girls but isn’t quite sure what. Oh, and Lennie has a few law issues himself, like being caught with an underage boy in the park that led to being registered as a sexual offender, which really wasn’t his fault since the boy told him he was legal.
If you aren’t offended so far, read on. Next up is Marnie’s married, drug-dealing, boyfriend that keeps them afloat for a few months by paying her to work the ice cream truck he uses to supply the neighborhood. Things get really weird when his boss shows up and demands the money that their lowlife father owes him. Things get even weirder after that. As the girls, now with the help of Lennie, avoid all manner of grown ups and the law, their life actually gets better. Lennie serves them regular meals, gives them a place to sleep and makes them feel wanted for the first time in their life. Told in these three alternating voices, the story is a dark comedy filled with emotion.
Of course, in Marnie and Nelly’s lives, nothing goes according to plan and their long-lost grandfather shows up to claim them. As Marnie quickly figures out, he is probably the reason their mother was not very maternal. Their plan lasts about four months and it quickly falls apart as the authorities and drug dealers come calling. This book is so wonderfully weird and filled with touching moments that had me at times sad but also laughing. There are quite a few interesting twist and plot turns that are so far fetched but at the same time believable. I really loved this one.
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