The Bumblebee Flies Anyway treats a number of tensions central to the human condition: love and hate, selflessness and selfishness, optimism and pessimism, joy and suffering, victory and defeat, courage and fear, beauty and ugliness. Set in an experimental hospital for the dying, the novel portrays a group of teen-age boys preparing to die while hoping to contribute to the lives of others. Searching for meaning in life, the realistic characters speak their minds and reveal their emotions. Readers empathize with Mazzo's pain, Allie Roon's helplessness, Billy the Kid's loyalty, and Barney Snow's love, courage, and selflessness.
Despite the harsh realities of death and dying presented in this novel, Cormier adroitly weaves an optimistic story of the boys' efforts to make life not only bearable but worthwhile. This depiction of adolescents courageously facing pain, suffering, and imminent death is ultimately inspiring.