Book Review: Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult; Jennifer Finney Boylan

Posted September 29, 2022 by WendyW in Book Review, bookblogger / 48 Comments

Mad Honey
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

by Jodi Picoult, Jennifer Finney Boylan
Publication Date October 4, 2022
Published by Random House LCC US
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Genres: Fiction / Women
Pages: 464
Format: ARC

***I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.***

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.

Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult; Jennifer Finney Boylan is one of my most anticipated reads of 2022 and it did not disappoint!  I enjoyed the book very much, from the characters to the courtroom drama to the bees and the twist that took the book in a completely different direction.  

Olivia McAfee is a single mother to Asher.  Olivia and Asher moved to Adams New Hampshire, Olivia’s hometown when Asher was six years old.  Olivia’s father kept bees, and Olivia returned to continue the business as well as escape the horrors of her marriage to a cardiac surgeon in Boston.  Lily Campanello recently arrived in Adams, with her mother to escape a terrible situation back in California.  Lily’s mother, Ava is a Forest Ranger, and also a single mother.   

Asher and Lily start dating and fall in love.  One day, Olivia gets a phone call from her son, telling her he’s in jail for the murder of Lily.  Olivia can’t believe her son could or would do anything to hurt Lily, but in the back of her mind, she remembers the terrible temper of Asher’s father and the few times she had a glimpse of that temper in Asher.  

I really enjoyed this one!  I loved the courtroom drama, the little bits of information about the bees, and the small-town charm of Adams, NH.  But most of all, I loved the characters.  Two strong single mothers, Olivia and Ava, both sacrificed their own wishes and lives to ensure their children were safe and protected. Their strength and selflessness shine in this book, and I loved both of them.  

Next is Asher and Lily, who both fall in love, and there is nothing like first love.  They are each other’s strengths and support each other, their relationship seems solid until Lily is murdered, and the only suspect is Asher.  Lily’s murder takes place early in the story, but we get flashbacks to her life back in California and her relationship with Asher throughout the book.   

My favorite part of this was the courtroom scenes, I was on the edge of my seat each time a witness took the stand, as the tide of the case went back and forth in Asher’s favor and then against Asher.  And it’s during the courtroom scenes that we learn so much about their relationship.  

I also enjoyed all the trivia about the bees.  I have 2 beehives in my backyard, and I still learned a lot about them from this book.  But, more importantly, I liked how the bee trivia related to what was going on in the book.  It was clever how the authors used the bee information and tied it into the story.  

I will be thinking of this book, and these characters for a long time to come.  I highly recommend Mad Honey to anyone who enjoys fiction.  I received a complimentary copy of this book.  The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

About Jennifer Finney Boylan

Jennifer Finney Boylan is the author of sixteen books, including GOOD BOY: My Life in Seven Dogs. Since 2008 she has been a contributing opinion writer for op/ed page of the New York Times; her column appears on alternate Wednesdays. A member of the board of trustees of PEN America, Jenny was also the chair of the board of GLAAD for many years. She is currently the Anna Quindlen Writer in Residence and Professor of English at Barnard College of Columbia University.

Jenny is a well known advocate for human rights. She has appeared five times on the Oprah Winfrey Show and has also been a guest or a commentator on Larry King Live, Good Morning America, and The Today Show. She is also a member of the faculty of the Breadloaf Writers' Conference of Middlebury College as well as Sirenland, in Positano, Italy.

She lives in Maine with her wife Deirdre. They have two children.

About Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of twenty-seven novels, including The Book of Two Ways, A Spark of Light, Small Great Things, Leaving Time, The Storyteller, Lone Wolf, Sing You Home, House Rules, Handle with Care, Change of Heart, and My Sister's Keeper, and, with daughter Samantha van Leer, two young adult novels, Between the Lines and Off the Page.

Picoult’s books have been translated into thirty-four languages in thirty-five countries. Four novels – The Pact, Plain Truth, The Tenth Circle, and Salem Falls - have been made into television movies. My Sister’s Keeper was a film released from New Line Cinema, with Nick Cassavetes directing and Cameron Diaz starring. SMALL GREAT THINGS has been optioned for motion picture adaptation by Amblin Entertainment and is set to star Viola Davis and Julia Roberts. Picoult’s two Young Adult novels, Between The Lines and Off The Page, co-written with her daughter Samantha Van Leer, have been adapted and developed by the authors into a musical entitled Between The Lines which had its world premiere in September 2017 at the Kansas City Repertory Theater and is expected to premiere Off-Broadway in Summer 2019.

Picoult is the recipient of many awards, including the New England Bookseller Award for Fiction, the Alex Awards from the YALSA, a lifetime achievement award for mainstream fiction from the Romance Writers of America, the NH Literary Award for Outstanding Literary Merit and the Sarah Josepha Hale Award. She holds honorary doctor of letters degrees from Dartmouth College and the University of New Haven.

Picoult is the recipient of many awards, including the New England Bookseller Award for Fiction, the Alex Awards from the YALSA, a lifetime achievement award for mainstream fiction from the Romance Writers of America, and the NH Literary Award for Outstanding Literary Merit. She holds honorary doctor of letters degrees from Dartmouth College and the University of New Haven. She is also a member of the advisory board for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts.

Picoult lives in New Hampshire with her husband. They have three children.

UK Cover:

I like the simplicity of the UK cover. And it’s got bees on the cover.

Have you read Mad Honey? Is it on your TBR? Which cover do you prefer?

48 responses to “Book Review: Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult; Jennifer Finney Boylan

  1. Love when an anticipated book lives up to expectations! I’ve only read one Jodi Picoult and while the ending really bothered me I really enjoyed the rest of it. I should give her another try.

  2. This sounds like a very complex story. I love the court room thrills added to an already strong story. I can see why it’s going to stay with you. Excellent review!

  3. Looking at the cover, I was not expecting there to be so much suspense and mystery and tension in this one. I’m intrigued.

  4. You’re a beekeeper? How interesting! I was also fascinated by all the information about bees, although unlike you, I knew next to nothing about bees going in. I also like how the authors tied that information into what was going on in the story.

    I didn’t enjoy this one quite as much as you did as it seemed overly long to me, a bit preachy, and just kind of uneven overall. The twist did take me completely by surprise, though, and it definitely led to some thought-provoking issues. Great review!


  5. I’ve never read either of these authors, but this sounds like an engaging mystery, Wendy. I wouldn’t mind learning more about bees either. Great review!

  6. Joanna @ TheGeekishBrunette

    Glad this one didn’t disappoint! It’s nice when an anticipated read meets all expectations.