Okay, sometimes you just want to read something that's a little offbeat. Or maybe a lot offbeat. I loved this weird little tale,
The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell
This is a contemporary novel set in Scotland where we meet two young sisters, fifteen year old Marnie and 12 year old Nellie, who were raised by irresponsible, drug-soaked parents, including a father who might have been abusing them. One morning they wake to find the father dead – apparently smothered by Nellie’s little princess pillow. The only thing that surprised teenage Marnie was how Nellie had the strength to hold the pillow over the father’s face long enough to kill him. But in the first few pages, we discover that, it was not young Nellie at all, but the mother Izzy who killed her husband in a drug induced fit of violence. When the mother, Izzy finds out what she has done, she goes outside and hangs herself in the garden shed.
Marnie, an angry, tough-talking, streetwise, adolescent does not want a social worker coming along and placing her and her sister in institutions or foster homes. But she figures that she’s only a year away from becoming a legal adult, at which time, she could get subsidized housing and take care of the quirky but brilliant Nellie and move on with their lives. But, the first order of business is to get rid of the rapidly decomposing bodies without detection.
What ensues is a captivating plot, populated by a helpful neighbor, menacing bad guys, sad sack friends, and some moments of gruesome, gallows humor. As a reader, you actually want to keep the girls’ secret, almost as though you felt they have done something wrong. In fact, given their age and their upbringing, they not only did nothing wrong, but they only did what they thought they could do to protect themselves and survive as they had been forced to do all their young lives.
I think many teenagers would love this book, although their parents might wince at the profanity if they were to hear it read aloud.