This would be about right. What started out as one of those stories that you couldn’t take your eyes away from, was so disturbingly quirky, quickly turned in to a very repetitive, repetitive, repetitive one. A real shame, for this was a book I quickly threw a hold on at our public library. I believe I was one of the first people to be able to read it too.
The story is told from three perspectives, with alternating and very short, quick chapters as told by:
Marnie: the oldest daughter of Izzy and Gene. One right messed up child. One person that became increasingly tedious to read about. Did not enjoy the continuous tales of her sexual escapades, how messed up she was due to her frightful upbringing by two incredibly neglectful parents. She is however, fiercely devoted to her sister Nelly.
Nelly: she appears to be autistic. She lives in a very different reality than Marnie. As Marnie describes her “she is off her head”. I cared the most for Nelly however, for she was the youngest and most unsettled person by their neglected upbringing.
Lennie: he is the very old neighbour, is homosexual, was handed a sexual offender status a few years prior, and cares very much for the well-being of these two very, very lost girls.
So, the story keeps flipping back to Marnie’s perspective, then to Nelly’s, then to Lennie’s and if oft repeated over and over again. Not much changes, no new details generally come about, and not much new or exciting happens. Marnie is a foul-mouthed, messed up girl, Nelly is trying to understand what is happening and Lennie is trying to provide security and safety and some degree of normalcy.
A very disappointing read for me. And one I’m glad I can now close and move on from.
From Goodreads: A riveting, brilliantly written debut novel-a coming-of-age story with the strong voice and powerful resonance of Swamplandia! and The Secret Life of Bees—in which two young sisters attempt to hold the world at bay after the mysterious death of their parents.
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 Hazlehurst housing estate isn’t grand, they do have each other. Besides, it’s only one 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? But he’s not the only one who suspects something isn’t right. Soon, the sisters’ friends, their other neighbors, the authorities, and even Gene’s nosy drug dealer begin to ask 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 each other.