There's nothing quite like having a story come alive in your mind while you're reading it - and when a story is narrated in turn by two completely imagined and vividly told teenagers and their aging, accidental guardian who also happens to be the local convicted sex offender, it is a sure thing that the story will be coming to life.
Fifteen year-old Marnie and her twelve year-old sister Nelly find themselves alone at the beginning of The Death of Bees. But it's not the usual sort of parental abandonment - the prologue opens, from Marnie's point of view:
"Today is Christmas Day. Today is my birthday. Today I am fifteen. Today I buried my parents in the backyard. Neither of them were beloved."
I started reading this book the other day, got a few chapters in, and had to put it down. The voices of Marnie, Nelly, and Lennie were so animated in my head - but I needed a little space before I could get back into the story. Last night, I picked the book up and went all the way in. I didn't stop - I couldn't stop - until it was done.
I'm so grateful to Michael Signorelli at Harper for sending me a copy of the book - I had a feeling that I'd love it. I took my sweet time getting to it in the to-be-read pile, but good god, was it ever worth it.
The Death of Bees
by Lisa O'Donnell
Harper | 9780062209849 | $25.99 | Jan 2013
A great review of The Death of Bees at SFGate by Caroline Leavitt is here.
The author is on Twitter here.