The Death of Bees

Anyone who has ever interacted with me well knows my addiction. It’s even a little pathetic, the way my librarian got me to read The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell.

Her: “This book is for anyone who likes edgy stories.

“It’s about two girls whose not-very-good parents have just died, and they’ve had to bury the bodies in the backyard to avoid being hauled off to foster homes.

“But the neighbour’s dog keeps digging up the bodies, and people start asking questions about where the parents have gone.

“The language is very interesting, because the story’s set in Scotland—“


And yes, the language is fascinating. It’s my firmest belief that minority dialects have the best cusses. (My family comes from Sichuan, where the only thing spicier than the food is the swearing.)

But as much as I appreciate a colorful narrator, it’s her intelligence that make me want to give Marnie Doyle, sixteen and worldly, the warmest hug of her life. Her self-destructive behavior is the product of neglectful parents, but the complexity and attraction of her character stems from how grounded she is. If I sat next to Marnie on the bus, I wouldn’t have found her especially witty nor irritatingly haughty. I’d notice a girl who wore her fishnets like armour, who looked people in the eye as well as in the heart.

It’s very interesting that O’Donnell wrote two sisters so different, so close. None of that cliche “opposites” shit, but just different. It’s entirely too easy for me to sympathize with Marnie and Nelly. at once feel the sadness absence of shared interests and the comfort of mutual understanding.

So in honor of our anglophenia madness, I’m launching the Lit Duet series with a book by Scottish writer Lisa O’Donnell. This new feature will pair literature with other books or movies of a similar theme. To better give you an idea of what this is, you’re getting not one, but three story pairings, one for each of our well-lived narrators: Marnie, Nelly, and Lennie. Stay tuned for them tomorrow!

Images from various screencaps found on Tumblr.

Find this book on Goodreads! Click on the cover!


One thought on “The Death of Bees

  1. Pingback: Story Collages! | Lionheart in London

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