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The Death of Bees    by Lisa O'Donnell order for
Death of Bees
by Lisa O'Donnell
Order:  USA  Can
Harper, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Lisa O'Donnel's The Death of Bees by takes a different look at life than that found in most of the novels in bookstores right now. Fifteen-year-old Marnie and her younger sister Nelly live in a Glasgow housing estate with their parents - their alcoholic, drug-addicted parents.

Neighbors notice that the parents seem to be gone. The girls tell everyone that they went on a holiday to Spain. Marnie wants to keep up the illusion until her sixteenth birthday when she can legally be a free agent, and also take care of Nelly.

An old man who lives next door recognizes a real problem. The parents must be gone for good. Lennie more or less accepts responsibility for the girls, feeding them, looking out for their welfare, and making sure the girls attend school where they are both good students.

Sure enough. The authorities are sniffing around, certain that all is not as the girls claim. And all is not well with Lennie.

This is a story of the human condition. It could be lightly said that when handed lemons, one must make lemonade. Marnie and Nelly make lots of lemonade as each lives according to her own lifestyle. The tie that binds them is the fact that they only have each other. The reader will be appalled by their living conditions but will applaud their determination to be together.

The Death of Bees is a finely crafted read. The short, short chapters (with headings from each character who is contributing to the story) can be a distraction as first but the approach holds its own.

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