Any Means Necessary by Candice Montgomery Review: A Gift

There are times when the toxicity of your family needs to be cleaned out of your life. For Torrey who’s 18, a college freshman and coming into a new romance has an opportunity to leave the negatives of his life behind. But then bees pull him back in. Candice Montgomery’s ‘By Any Means Necessary’ is a novel that tells you it’s okay to fight for what you want and discard what tries to keep its foot on your neck.

Bees do the impossible. The way they’re built, those insects aren’t supposed to fly. They seem to be perpetually in danger of dying off. Whenever it’s believed that the bees are disappearing you’re reminded of just how much they do. All those drones serving their queen, doing their job tend to be taken for granted until they try to leave. In an episode with the tenth doctor in the sci-fi show ‘Doctor Who’ the bees were fading from earth. In the horror movie ‘Candyman’ bees seemed to be synonymous with the harbinger of vengeance. Wherever they appear in television or film bees are harbingers. They’re telling you to work out your stuff or you just maybe on the verge of extinction. Early in Montgomery’s book the reader knows that Torrey has lost his mother and uncle before he’s off to college. Though his mother is significant, it’s his uncle who owned a collection of beehives that Torrey so desperately attempts to keep alive through his apiary inheritance. 

Yes, ‘By Any Means Necessary’ is categorized as a young adult novel. You may believe that genre is perhaps a way of limiting an audience, it’s not. Montgomery has written a work with quick, rhythmic dialogue, likeable characters, with a relatable protagonist. Young adult is a set of books signaling to people like a lighthouse saying this is a nonviolent harbor. In essence, regardless of age you’ll be safe here. Nonetheless, for the target age group Torrey is necessary. He goes through so much trying to hold onto his uncle’s beehives. Those bees aren’t just a legacy, in a sense they represent a man who accepted him and told him he’s worthy of being loved, that he matters. His aunt Lisa explains to Torrey that he needs to nurture his new family, the way his Uncle Miles taught him to nurture those bees. Still, Torrey struggles. But this is all in part of what it means to grow up. What exactly is family? Is it the man who insists on being called by his first name instead of grandfather, or is it the boyfriend that whispers he’ll keep you safe? As a gay, young man finding love and figuring out what he wants to do professionally for the rest of his life, Torrey needs to put himself first.

Candice Montgomery has written a love letter to all who have family members like Theo, those types who hate what they don’t understand or can’t control. Montgomery allows us to not feel bad to turn your back on blood-relations who don’t support your dreams. Or try to destroy the only kindness you feel a connection with. She also gives us a chance to mourn and figure out who we can be, all through Torrey. That’s a gift and a pleasure to read. 

About Donna-Lyn Washington 631 Articles
Donna-lyn Washington has a M.A. in English from Brooklyn College. She is currently teaching at Kingsborough Community College where her love of comics and pop culture play key parts in helping her students move forward in their academic careers. As a senior writer for ReviewFix she has been able to explore a variety of worlds through comics, film and television and has met some interesting writers and artists along the way. Donna-lyn does a weekly podcast reviewing indie comics and has also contributed entries to the 'Encyclopedia of Black Comics,’ the academic anthology ‘Critical Insights: Frank Yerby’ and is the editor for the upcoming book, ‘Conversations With: John Jennings.’

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