Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Ballantine Books
Date of publication: October 4th, 2022
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Contemporary, Romance, LGBT, Mystery Thriller, Thriller, Adult, Adult Fiction
Triggers: Domestic Violence, LGBTQIA+ Violence, attempted suicide, bullying, child abuse
Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | WorldCat
A soul-stirring novel about what we choose to keep from our past, and what we choose to leave behind.
Olivia McAfee knows what it feels like to start over. Her picture-perfect life—living in Boston, married to a brilliant cardiothoracic surgeon, raising a beautiful son, Asher—was upended when her husband revealed a darker side. She never imagined 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 she 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 him, 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.
From the moment I knew I was having a baby, I wanted it to be a girl.Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan
After a bitter divorce, Olivia returned to her hometown of Adams, New Hampshire to start over with her son, Asher. She takes over the family beekeeping business and builds a life there. Lily, too, has moved to Adams to start over. Everything gets turned upside down when Lily is found dead in her house with Asher holding her body. Olivia knows that Asher didn’t kill Lily, but she does wonder, especially when she sees his temper. As the trial becomes a public spectacle, the secrets of both Lily and Asher are brought out in the open. Secrets that Asher refused to tell his attorney and mother. Now Olivia wonders what else he is hiding. What are these secrets? Did Asher kill Lily? Will he be convicted of her murder?
When I first got this book, it was back in mid-2022. Having read Jodi Picoult’s books in the past, I figured Mad Honey would follow the same pattern: A great love, a death, and a revelation that would knock my socks off. So, I put this book on the back burner to read when I could. Well, that chance was last week, and I have to say, Mad Honey knocked it out of the ballpark for me. I devoured this book.
Mad Honey had two main storylines. The first centers around Olivia, her son Asher, her background as a domestic abuse survivor (which is disclosed reasonably early in the book), and Asher’s murder trial. The second storyline centers around Lily, her backstory (which is heartbreaking), the months leading up to her murder, and Asher’s murder trial. I admit I wasn’t a fan of the constant switching of timelines at first. But, as the book went on, I got used to it and gleaned several clues about Lily from those flashbacks.
The theme of beekeeping was central to this book. Olivia’s beekeeping business and caring for the bees kept her sane before, during, and after the trial. I learned so much about beekeeping that I didn’t know before. Plus (and I loved this), the authors included the recipes Olivia wrote during the trial (to keep her hands busy).
There are triggers in Mad Honey. They are domestic violence (graphic), LGBTQIA+ violence (graphic), bullying (graphic), attempted suicide (off page), and child abuse (graphic). Except for the domestic violence (which was against Olivia), I will not get into any of the other warnings. Doing that will give away major spoilers for the book. I usually am not triggered by anything in books, but some of these did trigger me. I highly suggest not reading the book if any of these triggers you.
A couple of twists in the plotline for Mad Honey had me going no way (and one that had me sobbing like a baby in the car rider line at school). The first twist came out of nowhere, taking me completely by surprise. But it made sense when I took a minute to compose myself and think about what was revealed. It was as if a lightbulb had gone on over my head. The second twist happens towards the end of the book, after the trial. Again, it took me by surprise. I was disappointed by how the authors handled that twist. And, in turn, that twist made the ending so much sadder.
The end of Mad Honey wasn’t a happy ending. I felt that there was no justice for Lily. I am not going to go more into the ending because of spoilers. I wasn’t left feeling happy. Instead, my heart was broken for all involved (and I wanted someone to pay for Lily’s murder).
I would recommend Mad Honey to anyone over 21. There is language, violence, and non-graphic sexual situations. Also, see my trigger warning paragraph above.
Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Ballantine Books, NetGalley, Jodi Picoult, and Jennifer Finney Boylan for allowing me to read and review Mad Honey. All opinions stated in this review are mine.
If you enjoyed reading my review of Mad Honey, then I suggest reading these books: