Published January 2013 by Harper *****
This book was SO effed up and I loved every page of it! When Marnie and Nelly’s parents die, they bury them in the back garden so the authorities won’t interfere and separate them. It’s told from the alternating perspective of delinquent 15 year-old Marnie, 12 year-old quirky prodigy Nelly, and their elderly gay (and classified sexual offender) neighbor Lennie. The girls struggle to keep their secret despite being better off without their negligent junkie parents. Lennie steps in to nurture them unlike they’ve ever been before and they are unsure how to react to such attention. It’s so sad that Marnie and Nelly have to grow up so quickly because of their situation and the grim realities of the welfare system in Scotland, but they both possess such admirable qualities even though their parents really screwed them up. Throw in some shady drug dealers, Lennie’s tormented past, and his dog who keeps digging up body parts, and you’ve got an incredible novel that toes the line of indecency. Marnie’s teen-angst voice was spot on, I was enamored with Nelly’s intellect and innocence, and I admired Lennie’s loyalty. Despite the horrific things that these girls experience, they find solace in being together and learn who they can really depend on. Plus there’s an awesome surprise ending. Yeah, awesome. Even though I had an idea where it was headed, I had no idea that it would go the route it did, but it was so satisfying.
Julz’s recommendaiton for another messed up, dysfunctional book with dead parents, check out The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan