The Past Comes Back to Sting in Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan

Mad Honey

My Review:

I knew absolutely nothing about Mad Honey before I picked it up and I am so glad I did! With two accomplished authors writing opposing characters’ voices, the partnership of Picoult and Boylan have created an important book that encourages dialog surrounding relationships, secrets, abuse and gender identity.

Olivia Macafee left her abusive marriage, and, with her son Asher, moved back to her hometown. Lily and her mom relocated to that same town to finish her senior year in high school, and Asher and Lily fall in love. These new beginnings are hopeful, yet there are secrets from the past that remain private, until they don’t. Then Lily is dead. From the perspective of Olivia and Lily, we learn about all that leads up to the day Lily dies and then the court case and trial where Asher is charged with her murder. In addition to the suspense created as bits and pieces are revealed leading up to Lily’s death, Olivia schools us on beekeeping her father’s business she has taken over. A bonus at the end of the book – some recipes that include honey!

This book deals with lots of issues – how much can we trust those we love and is it possible to harbor a secret, keeping the past hidden indefinitely? The characters are compelling and flawed; great examples of growth and how we become who we are meant to be. Their journeys are complex and heartrending: an abused single mom, a teenage girl with a secret, a boy charged with murder… and I want to root for all of them!

Author Jennifer Finney Boylan had a dream she co-wrote a book with Jodi Picoult about a transgender girl and… she tweeted about it. Jodi Picoult had been wanting to write about gender identity but was not confident she could adequately represent a transgender character on her own, so when she saw Boylan’s tweet she was thrilled and responded “Let’s Do This!” Boylan’s voice brings credibility and experience to Lily and with Picoult’s expert storytelling, young love, controversy and a court case, Mad Honey was the bees knees! I hope people read this book and walk away with a better understanding of humanity, making acceptance a priority.

Jodi Picoult

About Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of twenty-eight novels, including Wish You Were Here, Small Great Things, Leaving Time, and My Sister’s Keeper, and, with daughter Samantha van Leer, two young adult novels, Between the Lines and Off the Page. Picoult lives in New Hampshire.

MAD HONEY, her new novel co-authored with Jennifer Finney Boylan, is available in hardcover, ebook, and audio.

To read more about Jodi, visit her website.

Jennifer Finney Boylan

About Jennifer Finney Boylan

Jennifer Finney Boylan is a widely praised author and professor.

Jennifer’s memoir, She’s Not There, published by Broadway Books in 2003, was one of the first bestselling works by a transgendered American; until 2001 she published under the name James Boylan. She’s Not There, currently in its eighth printing, is popular both as a textbook in high schools and colleges as well as with readers’s groups. The paperback edition contains a “readers guide” in addition to the main text, which consists not only of Jenny’s insights on “a life in two genders” but also includes an afterword by Pultizer Prize winner Richard Russo, whose friendship with James, and later with Jennifer, provides part of the books narrative.

Jenny has been a frequent guest on a number of national television and radio programs, including three visits to the Oprah Winfrey Show. She has also appeared on the Larry King Show, The Today Show and been the subject of a documentary on CBS News’ 48 Hours. She has also appeared on a wide range of local and syndicated television shows, as well as NPR’s Marketplace and the Diane Rehm show. In 2007 she played herself on two episodes of ABC’s “All My Children.” She has spoken widely around the country on gender and imagination, at venues including the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. and the New Jersey State Theatre. She has given plenary and keynote speeches at conferences on diversity and scholarship around the country, and at colleges and universities including Amherst, Wesleyan, Dartmouth, Columbia, Vanderbilt, Duke, Bucknell, Dickinson, Bates, Ohio State, Middlebury, Gettysburg, Georgia State, the University of Puget Sound, and Westminster College in Salt Lake City. She has spoken at law firms, at corporate events, and at bookstores from Seattle to Vermont.

To learn more about Jenny please visit her website.

Book Nation by Jen


  1. I love Picoult! We read this for our irl book club & it had some opposing thoughts. Most loved it. I loved the twist!!! I did not see that coming!

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