The spring she is eleven years old, Melissa Singer’s mother walks out of the house and never returns. That summer her father, a migratory beekeeper, takes her along with him on his travels. The trip and the people she meets change her life. Over the years that follow, Melissa tries to unlock the mystery of her mother’s disappearance and struggles to come to terms with her loss.
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Melanie Dugan is the author of Dead Beautiful (“the writing is gorgeous,” A Soul Unsung), Revising Romance, and Sometime Daughter.
Born in San Francisco, Dugan has lived in Boston, Toronto, and London, England, and has worked in almost every part of the book world: in libraries and bookstores, as a book reviewer; she was Associate Publisher at Quarry Press, where she also served as managing editor of Poetry Canada Review and Quarry Magazine. She has worked in journalism, as a freelancer, and as visual arts columnist. Dugan studied at the University of Toronto Writers Workshop and the Banff Centre for the Arts, and has a post-graduate degree in Creative Writing from Humber College. She has done numerous public readings.
Her short stories have been shortlisted for several awards. She lives in Kingston, Ontario with her partner and their two sons.
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First of all, it’s kind of weird reading a novel written in first person about a person who shares your first name. True, the Melissa in this novel is called “Lissy” by most people, but even so, I was always the slightly out of place, voracious reader, and as such I really identified with her, except that I never lost my mother – in any sense. That aside, I was instantly drawn into Lissy’s story. My own childhood involved moving (and changing schools) roughly every eighteen months, so her sense of displacement, especially the first summer she traveled with her father, was familiar to me, and helped draw me further in.
The story itself was compelling, both in seeing the way Lissy grew and changed – going from lost child, to accomplished adult – and also in the evolution of er relationships, not only with her father, but with the array of characters they encountered on their bee-related excursions, and the way those connections formed a whole picture, once you had enough distance to see it from the right perspective.
Bee Summers is a thoroughly engaging novel, that, while sad in places, is also incredibly satisfying and really real.
Goes well with peanut butter and banana sandwiches, drizzled with honey, and fresh, cold milk.
This review is part of a blog tour organized by the lovely folks at TLC Book Tours, who also provided me with a copy of the book. For more information, or the complete list of tour stops, click HERE.