Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan


“Is there anyone worth knowing who doesn’t have something about themselves that is theirs, and theirs alone?”

Mad Honey

After not connecting with the heavy-handed approach in the last two Jodi Picoult books I read, Jodi and I were officially on a break. However, when I found out she was coming to speak at a nearby venue as part of the promo tour for Mad Honey, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to hear her speak again. I heard her speak a few years ago at a joint appearance with John Grisham and hearing about her writing process was fascinating.

A hand holding the book Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan.

Picoult was equally fascinating at the Mad Honey promo event – and, as an added bonus, I was introduced to the positively captivating Jennifer Finney Boylan. 

Upon learning the unlikely story behind how Mad Honey came to be – it was inspired by a dream Boylan had and tweeted about – I decided I wasn’t leaving without purchasing a copy of the book. I am so glad I did!

In Mad Honey, beekeeper Olivia McAfee is raising her son, Asher, in her small hometown after leaving the big city and an abusive marriage behind. Their quiet life is disrupted when Asher, a star athlete and well-liked student in high school, is accused of murdering his girlfriend Lily, who has secrets of her own. 

“Here’s what they don’t tell you about falling in love: there’s not always a soft landing beneath you. It’s called falling because it’s bound to break you.”

Mad Honey

The story unfolds in two timelines: Olivia’s present-day perspective and Lily’s going backward from the day of her death. (With the exception of one chapter, Picoult wrote Olivia’s chapters and Boylan wrote Lily’s. The co-authors switched POVs for one chapter each.)

Like most of Picoult’s books, Mad Honey tackles a controversial issue and makes you think about the humans affected by it. Revealing the issue this book explores gives away too much of the plot and will take away from the reading experience.

Like Leaving Time, my favorite Picoult book to date, Mad Honey also weaves in detail about nature. In this case, it offers interesting explanations of how bee colonies operate.

As much as I enjoyed the authors, learning about bees, and understanding more about a contemporary issue, it is the characters that make this book. Lily is a character who will stay with me for a long time to come.

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