From the publisher:
GOOD MORNING AMERICA BOOK CLUB PICK • A soul-stirring novel about what we choose to keep from our past and what we choose to leave behind, from the New York Times bestselling author of Wish You Were Here and the bestselling author of She’s Not There
Olivia McAfee knows what it feels like to start over. Her picture-perfect life—living in Boston, married to a brilliant cardiothoracic surgeon, raising their beautiful son, Asher—was upended when her husband revealed a darker side. She never imagined that she would end up back in her sleepy New Hampshire hometown, living in the house she grew up in and taking over her father’s beekeeping business.
Lily Campanello is familiar with do-overs, too. When she and her mom relocate to Adams, New Hampshire, for her final year of high school, they both hope it will be a fresh start.
And for just a short while, these new beginnings are exactly what Olivia and Lily need. Their paths cross when Asher falls for the new girl in school, and Lily can’t help but fall for him, too. With Ash, she feels happy for the first time. Yet at times, she wonders if she can trust him completely. . . .
Then one day, Olivia receives a phone call: Lily is dead, and Asher is being questioned by the police. Olivia is adamant that her son is innocent. But she would be lying if she didn’t acknowledge the flashes of his father’s temper in Ash, and as the case against him unfolds, she realizes he’s hidden more than he’s shared with her.
Mad Honey is a riveting novel of suspense, an unforgettable love story, and a moving and powerful exploration of the secrets we keep and the risks we take in order to become ourselves.
“Best-selling Picoult and Boylan team up for this timely, gripping story about a teen accused of murdering his girlfriend… The courtroom drama makes for gripping reading; a reveal about Lily at the midway point adds another dimension to the case, and Olivia grapples with the possibility that her son could take after her ex-husband more than he does her. This timely and absorbing read will make readers glad these two powerful writers decided to collaborate.” Booklist, starred review
“Picoult joins forces with novelist and transgender activist Boylan for a spellbinding yarn involving a teen’s trial for murder.” Publishers Weekly
The shocking murder of a teenager thrusts a small town into the headlines and destabilizes the lives of everyone who knew her… A well-paced story that highlights several timely issues, with a stimulating courtroom trial that makes it worth reading.” Kirkus Reviewshttps://amzn.to/3eaMWbd
I haven’t read Picoult in a few years, I guess, but I was intrigued by the fact she has a co-author. Is she going the way of James Patterson and pushing out more books by using co-authors? She’s writing with her daughter as well. But after reading the rather lengthy author’s note at the end of the book, I am relieved to say she is not. This was a one-off, I think, but you never know.
This is a book full of secrets that slowly unspool throughout the story. It isn’t until the halfway point that we get the biggest secret, one that I never saw coming. Several reviewers have mentioned this, but no spoilers here. Let’s just say all these characters reveal different aspects of their lives and therein lies the intrigue of this story.
Olivia is a beekeeper, and that aspect of the book was just fascinating to me. We had a big urn in the backyard next to a small pond, and one year bees moved into the urn and formed a hive there. A couple of years later, they came back, but this time to a different spot. We have a pizza oven that my husband built in our backyard, and underneath it is storage for wood & tools. For three years in a row, bees have made their way inside and formed a massive hive. We’ve been fortunate to find beekeepers in our area who were willing to collect the hives. But I really didn’t want them to come back, so my husband designed a sealed covering for the storage area that will hopefully keep the bees out. And we sacrificed the urn to the beekeeper who collected that hive. I never heard of mad honey before, although I did know about telling the bees when someone dies from the last Outlander book by Diana Gabaldon, Go Tell the Bees I am Gone, and of course, everyone learned about this practice when Queen Elizabeth passed.
The courtroom scenes are riveting, and if you are a Picoult fan, you may recognize one of the lawyers. I love when authors leave us these little Easter eggs, and I admit it took me a minute to realize I knew this lawyer. The book does get a bit…I want to say preachy, but that’s not quite right. Let’s just say there is some educating going on here, and that is a very good thing considering Picoult’s reach and Boylan’s expertise. It may cost Picoult some fans but hopefully will gain her new ones to offset the loss.
All in all, this is a very engaging story with interesting characters and quite a bit of suspense. Picoult is the queen of family dramas, and she retains her crown with this latest endeavor. I couldn’t put the book down and there is so much to discuss, your book club will love it.
10/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
MAD HONEY by Jodi Picoult & Jennifer Finney Boylan. Ballantine Books (October 4, 2022). ISBN: 978-1984818386. 464p.