The intertwined lives of two neighbours: one has lived in the same house all his life, five miles from the Pacific Ocean he doesn't regret never having seen. The other is a bright outsider determined to break free of a stifling family who gains a brief freedom with lifelong consequences. They are united only by an improbable friendship and a love of bees. This slow, tender novel is told in the careful, fussy voice of Albert, the homebody. It can take some getting used to, but it pays off in moments of sadness, joy, and wistful beauty. Sometimes the narrator seems a little thinly realized compared to his sparky neighbour, but he is in the end a compelling voice. I'm surprised at how quickly I finished this one.

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