Review: Here Is the Beehive by Sarah Crossan

9781526619495French philosopher Blaise Pascal’s famous aphorism (turned oft-quoted cliché) “the heart has its reasons” is reason enough for Ana and Connor to begin an illicit affair in Sarah Crossan’s first novel for adults.

“Here is the Beehive” isn’t about the ignition of a romance. Crossan spares us the ‘will-they-won’t-they’ tête-à-tête, and the tedious and torturous deliberation about the morality of their entanglement. For three years, in stolen moments — hotel rooms, bars and coffee shops, snatched weekends away, and quickly-deleted texts — they have formed a clandestine relationship. And in these moments, it is perfect, their other lives — spouses, kids, jobs — washed away. This isn’t a sexually-charged fling; genuine emotion pulses through their liaisons. There is love. But it exists in a void, unshared.

The book opens at the end of their relationship. “Here is the Beehive” is about its abrupt termination, when Connor dies suddenly, and the emotional fallout Ana suffers. It’s about the grief inherent when you lose a loved one, and how it can unspool the life you know, made worse for Ana by the fact nobody can know the their ever existed. With Connor gone, it’s like it never happened. So Anna, untethered, self-destructively makes contact with Connor’s widow.

Told in verse, Crossan’s trademark style, Ana’s sincere hopes and foolish naïveté regarding Connor is heartbreaking, her anguish over his death equally so. “Here is the Beehive” is a subversive exploration of the complicated matters of the human heart. Discomforting at times, but absolutely riveting and beautifully told.

ISBN: 9781526619495
ISBN-10: 1526619490
Format: Hardcover
Number Of Pages: 288
Available: 1st September 2020
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

Review: Moonrise by Sarah Crossan

MoonriseSarah Crossan’s Moonrise is a poignant, resonant and heart-wrenching exploration of our powerlessness against the justice system, and the emotional toll incarceration, and an impending death sentence, has on the offender and their family. The story is sad, but never overly sentimental, and truly shines when Crossan focuses on the lasting impact of individual moments. The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious young adult novel.

The Moon brothers — Joe and Ed — were inseparable in their youth, the latter being the troublesome and cheekier older of the two, who looked after his sibling as best he could when nobody else would. But Ed always had a wild streak — honed perhaps by a dysfunctional home life —  and a determination to escape the life he knew. One day, he did; but things did not work out as planned. When Moonrise opens, we learn that Ed is on death row for killing a police officer, and Joe hasn’t seen his brother for ten years. When Ed’s execution date is formalised, Joe makes the trip to Texas, hoping that there’s still time to save him, to repeal his fate; and more than anything, wanting to reconnect after so many years apart, and salvage their relationship.

Moonrise is told in verse, which makes the pages fly, its lyrical paragraphs and sentences seamlessly melding together into something beautiful. This is a novel that deftly explores the legitimacy of the death penalty without ever threatening to become a dissertation on the subject. More than anything else, however, it is a book about acceptance; acquiescing to your fate, even when it’s unfair, even when it’s unreasonably harsh. It’s about cherishing the time we have with our loved ones, and living with a willingness to open our hearts.

Moonrise is emotionally tumultuous, utterly gripping and satisfying. It will break your heart, and it will fortify it. It is a thought-provoking meditation on crime and punishment, exquisitely detailing the raw emotions on both sides of the prison cell. It’s about the before and the after, and fighting against the odds. It’s a cruel story, beautifully told. And it is absolutely one of my favourite books of the year.

ISBN: 9781408878439
Format: Paperback (198mm x 129mm x mm)
Pages: 400
Imprint: Bloomsbury Childrens
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publish Date: 7-Sep-2017
Country of Publication: United Kingdom