Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult, Jennifer Finney Boylan | Book Review

“…being a woman has meant being someone who gets talked over in conversations or ignored; someone who gets judged as a body instead of as a sentient soul; someone who, no matter who you are or what you are doing, always has to be on guard, lest someone else decide that you’re going to be his victim.”

Olivia fled her abusive marriage to return to her hometown and take over the family beekeeping business when her son Asher was six. Now, impossibly, her baby is six feet tall and in his last year of high school, a kind, good-looking, popular ice hockey star with a tiny sprite of a new girlfriend.

Lily also knows what it feels like to start over – when she and her mother relocated to New Hampshire it was all about a fresh start. She and Asher couldn’t help falling for each other, and Lily feels happy for the first time. But can she trust him completely?

Then Olivia gets a phone call – Lily is dead, and Asher is arrested on a charge of murder. As the case against him unfolds, she realises he has hidden more than he’s shared with her. And Olivia knows firsthand that the secrets we keep reflect the past we want to leave behind ­­- and that we rarely know the people we love as well as we think we do.

40. Mad Honey

This is my third book by Jodi Picoult and I love how I get drawn into her stories written against the backdrop of a subject completely unrelated but critical to the story. I haven’t read anything by Jennifer Finney Boylan before but having read this I can see how beautifully they sync their writing in a way that raises compelling questions.

Olivia and Lily’s stories discuss abuse in its varied forms. Olivia escapes her marriage to protect her son, Asher, from turning into his father. Lily and her mother, Ava, flee so they can live the life they want, rather than being trapped in one they never asked for.

This starts off as a typical murder mystery (a genre I haven’t read by Jodi Picoult before), but knowing how she likes to throw in a twist that hits you out of nowhere, I was bracing myself.

With Lily and Olivia being the two narrators, one tells the story moving forward after the event while the other narrates what lead to the event. As you get acquainted with Asher and Lily’s relationship and their history with abuse, it opens a discussion on the difference between privacy and secrecy. This may not seem to hold much importance but there is a distinct line that separates the two, even if it appears as fine as a strand of hair.

As the murder investigation progresses, secrets are teased open to reveal a shocking reality hiding underneath. The twist, when it comes, is a bolt from the blue. And this twist runs along a separate tangent of discussion on gender and identity.  

Olivia’s beekeeping business is meticulously researched and weaves seamlessly into the storyline to add philosophical reasoning as well as to draw an analogy. Even describing the healing powers of honey carry much weight in the story. 

This has always been my favorite fact about bees: in their world, destiny is fluid. You might start life as a worker, and end up a queen.

There is no doubt I Iove this book and all the socially relevant, thought-provoking questions it asks. The mystery of Lily’s murder with the court-room drama has edge-of-the-seat suspense. At the same time, I felt a tad disappointed, dare I say-cheated, with how it wrapped up in the end. The pulsating energy with which the book gained momentum dropped with a sharp thud, the fervour dissipating in the air.

I’ve learnt not to read reviews of Jodi Picoult’s books because I find they fall on opposite ends of the spectrum. For me, it’s enough to see her name on the cover to know I’ll pick it up no matter what and that remains unchanged. I am also looking forward to pick up Jennifer Finney Boylen’s work now that I know how this story and the idea to co-author the book came about.

An emotional but powerful tale of secrets and strength, Mad Honey is about discovering who you want to be, finding your path, and living the life that makes you happy.

Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan. This edition due to be published on 15th November 2022 by Hodder & Stoughton, a Hachette UK company. This ARC courtesy of NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton.

Book 40 of 2022.

Aquamarine Flavours Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟.

Available on Amazon*.

About Photo: Reading about honey and beekeeping, I wanted to try a layered paper art design. The bees and beehive pattern are cut from 220gsm cardstock

40. Mad Honeyb

About the Authors: Jodi Picoult is the author of 27 novels, with 40 million copies sold worldwide. Her last thirteen books, including her most recent, Wish You Were Here, have debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list.
Five of her novels have been made into movies, and Wish You Were Here is currently in development at Netflix. A musical adaptation of Between the Lines (co-written with her daughter, Samantha van Leer) recently debuted Off-Broadway. She is the recipient of multiple awards, including the New England Bookseller Award for Fiction, the Alex Award from the YA Library Services Association, and the New Hampshire Literary Award for Outstanding Literary Merit. Picoult is also the co-librettist for the original musicals Breathe and The Book Thief, which debuted in the UK this fall.
She lives in New Hampshire with her husband. They have three children.
You can find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Professor Jennifer Finney Boylan is the bestselling author of eighteen books, fourteen under her own name and four others under a pseudonym. In addition, she is the inaugural Anna Quindlen Writer in Residence at Barnard College of Columbia University and a 2022– 2023 Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. A nationally known advocate for human rights, she serves on the board of trustees of PEN America. For many years she was the national co-chair for GLAAD as well as a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times. Her memoir She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders was the first bestselling work by a transgender American.
She lives in New York City and Belgrade Lakes, Maine, with her wife, Deirdre. They have a son, Sean, and a daughter, Zai.
You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
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One thought on “Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult, Jennifer Finney Boylan | Book Review

  1. Pingback: Reminiscing about 2022 | #BrunchBookChallenge – Aquamarine Flavours

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