"I name all my queen bees after female divas: Adele, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Whitney, and Mariah. Taylor. Britney, Miley, Aretha, and Ariana are in the apple orchard...."
Olivia is a beekeeper living with her popular, well-regarded high school senior son Asher, in New Hampshire. Asher has a new girlfriend named Lily, and the two seem to be perfect for each other until Lily is found dead, by Asher. Asher is taken into custody and charged with Lily's murder. Olivia's brother Jordan is a retired prominent lawyer and rushes in to set up a defense for Asher in Olivia's home, while Asher is stuck in jail with a million dollar bail.
Olivia loves her son and works for his release but a tiny part of her worries that perhaps Asher has inherited her ex-husband's abusive behavior. What follows is a riveting courtroom drama, during which we get to know more about the characters through Olivia's and Lily's alternating perspectives. Interwoven throughout the story is fascinating information about bees:
“Girls run the bee world, and worker bees are all female. They feed the baby bees, shape new cells out of beeswax, forage for and store nectar and pollen, ripen the honey, cool down the hive when it's too hot....But their most important job, arguably, is taking care of the queen...while she lays fifteen hundred eggs a day.”
I learned much from Mad Honey co-written by veteran writer Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan about gender issues, that gave me insight, understanding and empathy for those who feel they have to keep secrets about who they are, or what they endure. This is my second novel by Picoult. Previously I read Wish You Were Here, a novel about a woman's Covid-19 experience, which was also exceptional. I would definitely seek out books by these authors again!
Hardcover 464 pages, Audiobook 15 hours 12 minutes