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 feels like a real return to everything I love about Jodi Picoult’s books (though this book was co-written with Jennifer Finney Boylan, an author I now want to find out more about)! It features great characters, interesting moral dilemmas, and has an intriguing air of mystery running throughout it.
We’re seeing things through the eyes of multiple characters: Olivia (mother of Asher, accused of murdering his high school girlfriend) and Lily, who is (/was) Asher’s girlfriend – for Lily’s chapters we see things in the lead-up to her death. Asher maintains his innocent, but the evidence seems stacked against him…
There are some great twists in this novel including one which took me by surprise, and meant that the first half of the book felt quite distinct from the second, but not in a bad way – I loved both parts, but the second half definitely brought some different, important themes to the fore. I don’t want to give too much away so I’ll leave it at that in terms of the plot itself.
I loved the courtroom scenes and the jumping backwards and forwards in time, as we slowly uncover what exactly was happening with Asher and Lily. I liked that the characters are not perfect – they all have their faults in different ways. Nothing is too black & white in their characters which feels much more realistic than when we are expected to believe that someone is perfect.
I thought I’d tire of the information about bees (Olivia is a Beekeeper) but I found it really interesting, and the love story elements of this novel are done really well and never felt too cheesy.
Mad Honey is a gripping, addictive read and I hugely enjoyed it.
Many thanks to the publisher, Hodder & Stoughton, for providing a copy of this book on which I chose to write an honest review.