Thursday, 8 January 2015

The Death of Bees - Lisa O'Donnell

The Death of Bees
Marie and Nelly are sisters, the children of two alcholic drug takers, so when Marnie finds her father dead in bed next to a pillow from Nelly's room, and a short while later her mother's body hung in the garden shed - all sensibility goes out the window.  For Marnie is only 15, and until she is 16 she cannot become the guardian for Nelly, her strange, violin playing younger sister.  Decision taken, they attempt to bury the bodies in their garden, but having only hand tools and no strength, they don't bury them deeply, and you know - you just know, that sooner or later all will be revealed.  They are taken under the wing of Lennie, the old gay bloke next door, who, following his loneliness after the death of his partner, is only too pleased to love and care for them with no strings.  That is until the children's grandfather turns up, looking for his own daughter -  their mother.  And that's when their troubles really start.
The story is told, in the first person, by the three main characters, Marie, Nelly and Lennie.  They each have their own style, and they each have a slightly different slant on the same story.  They also have secrets.  Secrets they will tell only you, the reader.
Yes, it's a dark, dark book.  Not without humour, although of course even that is of the blackest kind.  But behind all this is the little conscience that pricks us all, and reminds us that there really are kids out there like Marnie and Nelly, hanging on to life until they are old enough to be together officially, living lives of brutal misery.  Often separated and put "into care", although I do sometimes wonder what kind of care the authorities think they are offering when siblings are separated (and like Marie and Nelly, really only have each other).