By Lisa O’Donnell
Harper, $25.99, 310 pages, 4 stars
The Death of Bees is a novel that stays around long after reading. Marnie and Nelly—her little sister—must figure out how to care for each other after the fortunate death of their druggy, selfish parents. Not wanting to end up in foster care, the sisters bury their parents in the backyard under the cover of darkness. But even with their best efforts they attract the attention of their next door neighbor Lenny, and their interned parents attract the attention of his dog. Lenny takes them in, cooking them meals and offering them a place to stay. Each of them offer something to the other: the girls rid Lenny’s loneliness, while Nelly is given a place where she can be herself without being ostracized for her oddities and Marnie gets a glimpse of what it would be like to have a true father figure in her life.
This novel is darkly humorous and lonely, leaving you with memories of the characters that feel strangely familiar. It is a story simply told, with a clear understanding of human nature. It is a story that gets under the skin and stays there. Lisa O’Donnell’s cadence takes a little while to get used to, but the rhythm will sink in and will be appreciated in the end.
Reviewed by Nicole Green