MAD HONEY, J. Picoult, J.F. Boylan

A sweeeeet read!

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.

Richard says
So you think you know yourself, huh? This book will shake up your self-perceptions.

If you think collaborative writing leads to literary chaos and confusion, this collaboration by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finlay Boylan will change your thinking. These two writers worked together for a couple of years, consolidating, blending and melding their two personas. The result is a book that seamlessly weaves the work of creative and different writers into one. Readers will be hard-pressed to see where the writer switches take place. The switches are smooth and even, with no noticeable change in quality or style.

Who are you?
The story develops slowly.  In fact, it edges toward boredom a few dozen pages in. Pressing on, the two writers shock the reader with a jarring and totally unexpected revelation. And the story soars into clouds of self-awareness, self-examination and self-perception. The writers push readers into self-analysis without penalizing their story. Readers won’t notice the two writers poking them in the chest making them look at themselves and the lenses they use to look at other people. Each of us believes our perceptions of minority groups as justified and correct. We see ourselves as being fair-minded viewing people as they should be seen. None of us sees ourselves as having myopic vision of society.

Mad Honey subtly pricks every reader’s conscience. What is your view of minorities? What do you think minorities feel about themselves? What do they feel about their integration into general society? About themselves? Deeper and deeper, Picoult and Boylan probe, prodding readers into greater self-evaluation.

Then, the writers introduce a plot twist that ticks away suspensefully, like a time bomb clicking down to its climactic detonation. This is where P & B may be criticized as going too far, straying from staying on point, on plot, on storyline.

Lofty aims
P & B may have idealistic and lofty goals: might readers re-evaluate their thinking in regard to minorities? Can they consider more inclusion, more empathy and greater acceptance of people who are outside the ‘norm?’ P & B’s ‘norm‘ has a much broader spectrum. However, their message may edge toward the tedious as they push too far, too long. It detracts from the story.

Stick to the story
The story detours with side trips into information about honey bees who sporadically buzz in and out of the story. Why? For what purpose? Perhaps P & B’s goals are stinging barbs aimed at pricking readers into considering new ways to consider minorities? Perhaps the stings of the bees are intended to make readers more introspective and more empathetic about minorities but the bee flights last too long?

The writing is excellent, smooth and flowing,  Readers will be engaged and entertained throughout. If the writers’ intent was to get readers to think about their mindset about people, they succeeded with me. 

An outstanding ‘read’ that will have you thinking about your social views.

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