Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult & Jennifer Finney Boylan

Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult & Jennifer Finney Boylan Book Summary


NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “Alternatingly heart-pounding and heartbreaking. This collaboration between two best-selling authors seamlessly weaves together Olivia and Lily’s journeys, creating a provocative exploration of the strength that love and acceptance require.”—The Washington Post

Olivia McAfee knows what it feels like to start over. Her picture-perfect life—living in Boston, married to a brilliant cardiothoracic surgeon, raising their beautiful son, Asher—was upended when her husband revealed a darker side. She never imagined that 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 she wonders if she can 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 Ash, 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 Book Details

Book Name Mad Honey
Genre Fiction & Literature
Author Jodi Picoult & Jennifer Finney Boylan
Published 04 October 2022, Tuesday
Price $12.99
E-Book Size 5.09 MB

Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult & Jennifer Finney Boylan Book Reviews

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Could have been so much better. Great premise and great characters but became repetitive within the story. Absolutely interesting to read in the first person their individual views of life, just not that compelling after about the first half of the book. The ending was completely not plausible, bottom line, waste of money to buy but if you can get from the library, go for it.

Av1d Reader24

Misrepresented. Misled by book description. Used as a vehicle to push a special interest agenda.


Loved the book and loved that it was written by 2 authors with different experiences. Will recommend it


Interesting Title. Loved this story, the main character, and the struggles she faced.


Good but abrupt. Good story with a well done perspective. But, the ending was so hurried that it didn’t get its due justice.

Samuel Rickey

Another Winner. What I love about all of Jodi Picoult’s books is the layering of subjects. It’s like reading several genres in one novel.

Kasupuu super

Slow read. Slow read not good story line


Liked half of the book. The half about the bees/honey could be left out IMO. thought the twists were exciting. Slightly woke. Wouldn’t read if you’re conservative


Such a good story with a twist. You learn to love all the characters in this story and you’ll turn the pages quickly to find out how everything unfolds. The ending you truly won’t see coming but it will pull everything together to make so much sense.


Where do you side?. Why I love Jodi so much, you hear a topic in the news, you are in high school when an active school massacre happens and you think you know where you stand on these topics. Until you read a novel of the other side and you find yourself questioning where do you really stand? These days people are so closed minded and you’re afraid to even voice your opinions for fear of resentment or arguments yet Jodi has the ability to make you question yourself and see a different side and fall in love with each character. This is why I love her stories. There’s also ALWAYS a gasp as I read them. Some crazy surprise you were not expecting and always tears, happy and sad. Thank you for pushing the limits and always providing a different side and making me question which side I’m truly on. It makes me grow as a human and gives me new found respect for someone else, every time.


Woke. If I could give it 0 stars I would. I was not looking for a political agenda

Coupon cooper

Not a great ending. A little boring at times and a very unrealistic ending.

Luft 57

Too much honey. Made it easy to empathize with hurdles transgender people constantly have to conquer. Educates regarding the many diverging paths sexual orientation can have, not just male or female. Too many bee keeping details. Anita Anita


Mad Honey. Well worth your time. The knowledge that is bestowed regarding people who are transgender is so worth the read despite the parts that seem too long and repetitive. You will also learn a lot about honey, the wonderful kind, as well as about the mad kind which seems to manifest itself in abusive human males.


Captivating. Amazing. As always. Jodi never disappoints. I loved simultaneously learning about bees and beekeeping while following along to this beautifully tragic story that happens all too often. 12/10 couldn’t put it down


interesting!. i did enjoy this book, however (slight spoiler) i did feel like several cool characters where only there just to educate the readers on being transgender, when i think they could have been much more than that. i was a little bored in the last couple of chapters. regardless, it is worth the read.

Avid reader13

A disappointment. It was disturbing to read about teenagers sex lives and then to layer on the trans narrative.


Incredible read. Hard to put down. I’ve never had a book make me want to cry when it’s finished until this. Loved all the bee facts as well.


A Great Read. A wonderfully told story that drew me in and kept me engrossed from beginning to end. To talk about the specifics would be to give away the plot, so I will say no more.


Excellent. Excellent! I couldn’t put it down. It also makes you think a lot about a certain subject.


Could have been really good. This book has a lot of potential. The plot was good. The characters were good. The settings and everything was good. The only thing I absolutely hated was the amount of information in the book. I was here for the mystery and court room drama part of this book… I was noooot here for the manuals of information on bees and the lgtbq+ life. I skipped through soooo much of this book to actually read the plot.

Boo Cha Cha Cha

Such a moving story. Let me start by saying, I have greatly enjoyed many books but never have I left a book review. However, these two brilliant co-authors have written a novel that is so moving, perceptive and insightful that I felt compelled to acknowledge both their extraordinary collaboration and the book it produced. Mad Honey left me with a greater understanding of the complexities of the human condition. Of course, I knew it had to end but I still…I wish it didn’t.


Surprisingly good! (No spoilers). I had no idea what this book was about when our book club announced it for this month. I always enjoy books where I can learn something, and this one was a lot of learning. While the main plot and conflict was important, two of the subplots were more important to me. I was engaged right away and it kept my interest the whole way through.


Didn’t want to put this one down!. Loved reading the story from the different characters point of view. Very unpredictable, my jaw dropped at several parts of the book. Didn’t want to put this book down because it killed me to know what happened next! Loved it!

Grama Lou

Legal inquiry. I truly enjoyed this book as I have all of Jodi’s works. It was especially helpful because I am the grandmother of a gay man who is in a relationship with a trans gender woman. Thank you for that great education, and the sensitivity with which you dealt with the topic. My only question is more along legal lines. Would not Maya have some culpability in the death of Lily? And, because she testified, I wonder if there is some guilt there for withholding evidence.


Thought-provoking and poignant. 👍

Lil miss gogo

Mad Honey. I learned a lot about the experience of being gender different and how it can affect someone’s whole existence. I found the book to be very interesting and helpful.


Mad Honey. This book is full of interesting characters. The lives brought together by past hardships and challenges coalesce around teenage love and deep secrets. The connection to the bees and their habits is fascinating.


Great book. A great book. Wonderful character and story development.

Peggy Sound

A page turning learning experience!. Jodi tells this story from two characters starting on the day of a life changing event. Olivia goes forward in time and Lily goes back. A truly insightful and compelling story that is portrayed through the lens of the character. This book will absolutely change your perspective. Thank you Jodi


A must read. Great story. So prevalent to where we find ourselves today in this world. This was a sad, heartbreaking story of hope. When the story ends, the reader has been educated on the intricacies of gender and what it truly means.


LOVE LOVE LOVE. I read the reviews for this book after I had already bought it. And as a Christian, I had concerns about the transgender aspect of the book. However, I decided to try to read it anyways. I was pleasantly surprised when I fell in love with the book and ALL of the characters. This book perfectly portrays how we should love others for WHO they are and not WHAT they are. Highly recommend to any and all people.


This is not just a novel…. …This was not just an engaging novel, it’s a heart-and-mind opening guide to understanding that every cis person should read. Thank you for writing it, thank you to the friend who recommended it. 💙


Stupid & ridiculous book. I wanted a murder mystery…..this book’s purpose is to raise Trans support of children. A quote”luckily my mother allowed me to start testosterone blockers at age 14” Synopsis is purposely misleading.


Lessons to be learned. The story opens the eyes of the reader to help understand the struggles of a trans person, but more importantly than that, it shows that loving someone based on who they are, not what they are is what life is about. Couldn’t put the book Down.


Mad Honey. I learned so much about Transgender in this book! It was well researched and explained in a compassionate way! With 12 grandchildren and 3 great-grands it’s good information to have so you can help dispel ignorant opinions about people who are different! Thanks to Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Boylan for writing this! Elaine I Hampton NH


Incredible. Amazing, as always.


Mad Honey. Very interesting book!!


Moving story. This book kept me awake on several nights because I NEEDED to know what was next. The characters were so intricate. I haven’t read a Jodi Picoult book in a few years and I was pleasantly surprised by this one. Also, finding out how she connected with the author via twitter, then it actually happening, amazing. Definitely a dream come true!!


I didn’t read a synopsis ahead of time…. If I would have, I would have passed on the book. But I thoroughly enjoyed learning about bees. Ms. Picoult is an excellent writer. I just didn’t care for the subject matter.


Good story but…. I felt like an inordinate amount of effort went into schooling the reader about trans. I did appreciate learning more about trans people but it was over emphasized by a string of minor characters like Elizabeth and the beautiful trans woman doctor whose sole purpose was seemingly to educate us about it. Felt like overkill.

Jan Forni

Mad Honey. I loved every moment of this story and couldn’t put it down. I loved the characters, but I especially loved Lily. I’ve learned so much about what it means to be trans gender, and I now have an ever growing and much deeper understanding of a community of fellow humanbeings striving to be true to themselves, with this author’s revealing glimps of what they battle each day in order to do so.


Would give 6 stars. I had no idea what this book was going to be about and was beyond stunned by all the twists and turns. Absolutely AMAZING and should be read by everyone. I couldn’t recommend it more.


3 stars. Wow, I just typed up an entire review and it deleted. It’s kind of late and I wanted to pick out what the next book I’ll read will be, so I’m going to just keep this re-do short and to the point…. I’m giving this book 3.5 stars. I did find that the style was a bit more like Jodi’s original books, and I have missed that and so I did enjoy that aspect. However, I’m not sure if Lilly’s memories going backwards throughout the novel was supposed to be metaphorical or what- but it was lost on me and made it slightly confusing. I loved almost all of the characters, minus Dirk. I really loved Lilly, too, but a lot of her character and some of the scenes reminded me of the show Euphoria. Also a lot of the “shocking twists” weren’t that shocking? Not sure how I had a hunch about Lily’s “big reveal” from one or two sentences sprinkled earlier in the book; but I’m observant and figured that’s what it was going to be. I also intuitively knew the court outcome and I even had a hunch about who actually murdered Lily. While I’ve never read anything else by Jodi’s coauthor on this one: Jennifer Boylan, I do plan on giving another book in her catalog a shot. And as always, I’ll continue to read Jodi’s books because I’m a fan and have been for awhile. I know everyone likes to switch things up and try something new- but I haven’t really LOVED any of her books in quite some time now. The last 3 or so were just alright.


♥️. Loved this book and the unexpected turns it took. Did not want it to end!


What? (Spoiler alert). I generally like Jodi Piccoult, and I did enjoy the deep dives into beekeeping and transgender issues, however, the resolution in this story is beyond incredulity. Totally out of left field to have the “best friend” of both main characters not only be the killer but to remain silent while her “best friend since I was six” gets arrested and tried for murder. Just No.


Brilliantly Educational. I admit that while I pride myself in being open and accepting, I’m not infallible. I am unable to see or truly understand something that I’ve never been part of or having known someone trans. I cried so much, learned so many things and enjoyed the different perspectives of these characters! Two authors who created a story that so beautifully intertwined together, that I couldn’t stop reading until it was finished. Loved every page of this book!


So you think you know what trans youth need. First, this book (as you learn at the end from the 2 authors) comes from both women wanting to speak their truth with a truly talented co-author. Their final, layered story will not only challenge whatever you think you know about other people’s choices and why they make them. The interwoven thread of bees lives and the use of their honey is fascinating! A must read!


10/10. Could not stop reading every little twist with new information was absolutely perfect. Great book.

ATT nit what used to be

Enlightened. This book was informative where bees were concerned. A bonus! Was enlightening to learn how children, as well as adults, grapple with family and friends’ reactions to their lifestyle. It was heartbreaking and loving. I will not reveal the surprising twist in the book as other reviewers have. I just recommend this book highly. As a grandparent, I learned how to react, speak with (should the need arise) to my grandkids if/when they are confronted with this type of situation with themselves or their friends. As a Christian, I will not judge, I will simply listen, accept and love.

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Annie Marie Grace

Incredible. This is a must-read book. I am amazed at the nuance with which both authors discuss these topics. I was in tears reading about these complex, beautiful characters. 5/5 from me. Everyone should read this.


Great story but “plot twist” was obvious.. Chilling and progressive, this story is so well written. She covers the inner conflict of an abused mother so well, and really draws you in with her timeline. Somehow she manages to tie in amazing bee keeping and relate it to murder. The only reason it didn’t get a 5 star rating is because it was obvious to me who was at fault the entire time…. And the ending consequences seemed unrealistic. However, worth reading every page.


stunning. Stunning book, love the way the two authors knit together the story and the two women whose stories are told will be hard to forget. Especially loved Lily.


Not what I expected. Kind of boring, and you’ll learn more about honey bees than you ever wanted to know. I started skipping over the bee tending parts.

C. Evans

Amazing Read. I was enthralled, a beautiful story about love……and revealing truths

Jeff M.A

Masterful!!!!!. One of the most beautiful books I have ever read. If you cannot find it in your heart to find compassion after reading this you will have to dig deeper to find your soul.


Waste of time. Way to woke for my taste

Kat Werlinich

A little too predictable and lengthy. I appreciate the voice given to the main characters here, but found the anecdotal parts not especially compelling, and the bee / honey metaphors - while perhaps educational - forced and tiresome.

I could break it down

thought provoking. I read this a few weeks ago and I’m still thinking about it. Well done.


Transexual and recipes?. Very disappointed in this book. Read for entertainment and instead felt that someone was pushing their agenda on me. Not interested in transsexuals and recipes for honey.


Great book!. What a wonderful experience it was to read this book. Be prepared to learn some things not only about beekeeping but also about human beings (including yourself) Don’t miss the authors’ notes at the end. It makes the story that much more amazing!


Disappointed. Very disappointed in this book. As a senior I am not interested in a trans love affair. I believe there should have been a content warning about trans subject matter. I wish I could get a refund to my account - I spent 14.99 out of my fixed income. I will not be buying anymore of her books…she has lost a fan.


Mad Honey. This is a very thought provoking book. Without giving anything away it opened my eyes to the journey many people face regarding their true self. However, the ending felt very unjust and I felt angry about the final lack of accountability for one character. She destroyed so many lives and basically faced no consequences while the lives of others were permanently changed in a heartbreaking and permanent manner.

Lauren B in WV

A must read for your winter list!. Wow what a ride! This book was not at all what I expected & I was pleasantly surprised. I don’t want to give away too much in my review, as I feel going into it blind makes the thrill of the reading that much better. The interweaving of the beekeeping into the plot of the story was an exceptionally creative way to tie up everything in a nice bow, right down to the title. As stated above, I want to be vague, as that will make reading “Mad Honey” all the more sweeter for the reader. Make this a must read on your list this winter!


Nope.. This book jumped all OVER the place. The timeline went from place to place to place all while writing from 2 different characters perspectives. The “who dunnit” aspect was highly predictable and overall a huge let down. Most importantly, this book is really just a push to touch on every hot topic possible. While informative, it surely wasn’t believable or convincing.


Loved!!!!!. My Review: Loved!!!!! It definitely lived up to all the hype. It was hands down my top read of the year. Maybe even ever!!!!! I don’t know how any author is going to top this one. So, I want to start off by saying that Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite writers of all time. I just love her books so much. I have read many of her books and they all have been such a joy to read. Whenever I pick up one of her books I get so lost in them. I lose all track of my surroundings and time. Like a tornado could hit and I wouldn’t even notice. I also have to make sure I have everything done beforehand otherwise nothing will get done until I’m finished with the book. Let’s talk about this book for a minute. What a brilliant story. The characters were all phenomenal and they blended so well together to make this a fantastic and beautiful read. Jodi Picoult took a hard topic and wrote it with such a gentle touch. I was in tears and very emotional during most of this book. Tissues were by my side during most of this read. This book was part mystery, part love story, and part learning who you are all wrapped up in one. This book had it all. Once again Jodi Picoult writes a gripping and compelling read that I would totally recommend. In conclusion, the plot, the characters and all the twists in this book made this book an enjoyable read. I would definitely recommend it and happily give it 5 Hearts❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️


Juxtaposed. Loved Lily and getting an insight into a trans girl’s character and the love affair with Asher. The timeline jumping all around was distracting and irritating but overall this was a great story, well told.


Open your mind. This story was truly an educational and a mind opening journey. Thank you to both authors!

Burried in books

Not great. Too predictable and too wordy. Had to “fast forward” several times because I just got bored. Also, FACT CHECK PLEASE! I know it’s a small thing but there was a mention of a kid getting a full ride as a hockey goalie at “UC-Boulder”. First, we refer to our school as CU-Boulder and second, we don’t have a hockey team!!!


Fantastic story. Really made you think about what people will do to survive. Enjoyed the compelling storyline.


Ok. Definitely better than her last 2 books, but it’s still not on the same level as a lot of her older books. Maybe it has to do with this one having a coauthor. Gerald a decent read, just not my favorite.


Amazing book!. I devoured this story over the course of 2 days. Great characters, engaging plot! One of the best books I read this year.


It was ok. It was ok. Kinda dragged a bit and too many topics in one book. Jumped all over the place. I dragged to finish it.


Pretty good, Love the perspective. See review. I’m going to break this down into a few parts. 1. Writing 2. Plot/Storyline 3. Character Development 4. Ending. TLDR: Good writing, good storyline, a little worldly with some convoluted stories. It took longer than needed, but good level. Somewhat good ending, some may say predictable. 1. Novelist is a generally good writer. This isn’t literary artwork, but it is well-written enough that it is easy to read. Some parts were longer than needed, and flipping to the past so frequently aided to frustration at times others, a good concept. 2. Plot/Storyline: If you have polarising views and abstract books you don’t enjoy, You won’t want this. This book required a certain level of empathy: TW Domestic violence, Transgender issues. The author did a good job creating an exciting story while educating the reader about women’s problems and intersectionality. 3. Character Development: Decent. The author wanted you to make assumptions through the book only to change and challenge them later. Interesting strategy. 4. Ending: Good story with good themes. Ergo the 4-star rating.


Story peaked early!. Disappointing ending. Usually the endings of Picoult’s books leave you thinking—this one was flat. But after Chapter 4, how much more plot excitement could there be?

Kah tee

Sign of the times. This book is about Olivia, who has divorced Asher's father due to domestic violence. Olivia is worried that Asher could have inherited his father's tendencies. This book is about Asher who falls in love with Lily, who is found dead from a traumatic fall. This book is about Lily and her mother, Ava. Ava, who only wants her child to have a meaningful life and relocates the both of them to get away from Lily's father. This book is about a murder trial with Asher facing a lifetime in prison and the secret that Lily and her mother have kept from the community. This book dropped me in my tracks, completely surprised me and I barely caught my jaw before it hit the floor. Using a mix of past and present, the events that lead up to Lily's death is parceled out to the reader, resulting in a very suspenseful read. Not only is it suspenseful but it is also a book that educates. Once again, the author tackles a volatile issue that is prominent in the United States today. I give kudos to the authors for opening my eyes and "hearing" what needs to be said in regards to our world today. I have written an honest review in exchange for the DARC I received from Penguin Random House and NetGalley.


Engaging story. Very well written. Loved the story, the different perspectives and the honey history! All around well done!


Great Book Club Pick!. Olivia and Asher move back to her family’s farm in New Hampshire after her father died of a heart attack. She has to take over the bee hives as no one else in her family has the knowledge. When Asher is a senior in high school, he dates Lily. Asher as a Christmas present for Lily surprises her with her estranged dad. Lily is upset, is offended, and can’t believe he has done that. After that meetup, Lily is out of school because she is sick and refuses to respond to Asher’s text. When Asher goes to check on her, he finds her dead at the bottom of the stairs. But is it what it appears? Did he really kill her or was he the one who just found her? Will he be accused of murder? A deeply emotional story that will have you turning pages to find out Asher’s fate. Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan take heavy hitting/controversial topics and weave them into a powerful story. It’s not an easy read and very emotional. Not a book that everyone would enjoy, but would make for a great book club pick!

Cappy 7391

Great read. Good story line and characters. A+

Geri Wolf

Mad Honey. Not as good as her other books. Too obvious how it would finish. Disappointed. Love her books.


mi. t


Awful. If you want to read about a trans love affair go for it . But the timeline is confusing and ineffective, and the ending is predictable. As a side note, the authors clearly wanted to normalize being trans, but instead made a great case as to why it is dangerous medically to tamper with young adolescent hormones.

Jodi Picoult & Jennifer Finney Boylan - Mad Honey Comments

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About Author "Jodi Picoult & Jennifer Finney Boylan"

Jennifer Finney Boylan (born June 22, 1958) is an American author, transgender activist, professor at Barnard College, and a former contributing opinion writer for the New York Times. She was the vice president of PEN America and became PEN America's president in December 2023. Early life and education Boylan was born in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, and graduated from The Haverford School, a private prep school in Haverford, Pennsylvania, in 1976. She graduated from Wesleyan University in 1980, then completed graduate work in English at Johns Hopkins University. Career Boylan was on the faculty of Colby College from 1988 to 2014. In 2000, she was named "Professor of the Year" at Colby College. She moved to Barnard in 2014, where she is both Professor of English and Anna Quindlen Writer-in-Residence.Boylan has written thirteen books, including novels, collections of short stories, and her memoir. Her 2003 memoir, She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders was the first book published by an....

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