“Mad Honey” enlightens and nourishes

by Janice Hoffmann

Go ahead, explain non-cisgender …

Do you support those who identify as noncis (people whose gender does not match the one usually associated with the sex they were assigned at birth), even if you don’t understand them? Do you hate them and think they are an abomination? Do you even know what I’m talking about?

Wherever you fall, you owe it to yourself to read “Mad Honey,” a captivating, well-crafted collaboration between Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan. It is a fresh take on love and loss.

It all began before it began, when Finney Boylan awoke one morning and Tweeted, “I dreamt I wrote a novel with Jodi Picoult.” To her surprise, Picoult replied, “What was it about?”

“Mad Honey” is about real people (or at least they seemed real to me) who know what it’s like to be hurt by people you love. Lily, the deceased, tells her story leading up to her death, alternating with Olivia, a beekeeper and the mother of the accused, who tells her story in the months following the death of her son’s girlfriend.

Her description of the events following Lily’s death is interspersed with incidences of domestic abuse, all the while explaining the tragic magic of the hives she tends, and life lessons that one can learn from nature.

When I finished Mad Honey at 2:30 a.m., because I couldn’t put it down, I immediately went into my kitchen and made a drink of honey, lemon juice, and hot water, inspired by the recipes that grace the end of the book. I can’t imagine you will regret cradling this book in your arms for a day or two.

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