Here Is the Beehive by Sarah Crossan
Published by Bloomsbury, 2020
Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Ana and Connor have been having an affair for three years when the latter dies abruptly in a traffic accident. Having always conducted their relationship in secret, Ana feels completely unable to grieve publicly. Making matters even more complicated, as Connor’s lawyer, Ana has been designated the executor of his Will, meaning she must finally confront Rebecca, the wife whose presence always loomed between them.
Crossan does an excellent job of fleshing out a complex narrator who is deeply flawed yet sympathetic, neither glorifying nor sitting in judgement of the poor moral choices Ana has made. Shifting back and forth through time to explore Ana and Connor’s relationships – with each other and with their respective partners – Crossan explores the importance of honest communication, the pain of keeping secrets, the need for closure, and the struggle to find love when fundamentally, you don’t believe you deserve it.
The novel is written in verse, but that’s not to say it opts for poeticism over narrative or character depth. Linguistically, it very much reads like standard prose – though Crosson does have a lovely turn of phrase. Instead, the verse structure is used to give the novel a sense of brevity and flow; with Ana’s thoughts continuously jumping between past and present in a fleeting and fragmented way, reflective of her struggle to navigate her grief and confusion. It also lends the whole thing the feeling of a diary, helping us get inside Ana’s head as she wrestles with her grief, guilt, anger, and burgeoning obsession with Rebecca, the “other woman” who seems to defy her every expectation.
Opting for an approach that feels surprisingly understated given the potential melodrama inherent to its setup, the novel attempts to see a horrible situation from a perspective that is typically overlooked; reminding us to choose happiness when we can, for others’ sake as much as for our own.
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