Title: Mad Honey
Author: Jennifer Finney Boylan and Jodi Picoult
Audiobook Length: 15 hours and 12 minutes
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Contemporary, Romance, LGBT, Thriller
Read Start Date: March 16, 2023
Read Finish Date: April 17, 2023
Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: 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.
My Review: I borrowed the audiobook of Mad Honey from the library solely because it was listed as “popular”, without any prior knowledge of the story. I later discovered that it was a nominee for the Goodreads Best Fiction award in 2022.
The novel is structured around two different points of view, that of Olivia and Lily, and revolves around the pivotal event of Lily’s untimely death, and suspected murder. While Olivia’s perspective progresses forward in time, Lily’s viewpoint takes readers back in time, providing insight into her life leading up to her death. Through Lily’s perspective we see the evolution (in reverse) of the romantic relationship between Asher (Olivia’s son) and Lily. Meanwhile, Olivia’s viewpoint centers around the aftermath of Lily’s death and Asher’s subsequent trial.
This unique structure adds a layer of depth to the storytelling and allows readers to see the full picture of the events leading up to and following Lily’s passing. In the afterward of the book, the author’s describe their writing process, where initially each author took up one POV. Through editing and redrafting (done by both authors) the writing styles were combined into one cohesive book.
The suspenseful plot kept me on the edge of my seat, as the investigation into Lily’s death unfolds and secrets are revealed. I don’t want to give away too much about the plot as the story takes a surprising turn around the halfway mark, revealing an unexpected twist that is not hinted at in the synopsis. The twist and well executed pacing adds an additional layer of complexity to the story and kept me guessing until the very end.
The characters are well-developed and relatable, each with their own flaws and challenges that make them feel real and engaging.
A definite must-read!