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Mad Honey is a collaborative novel by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan, first published in 2002. The book revolves around the murder case of Asher Fields, an 18-year-old boy who is accused of killing his girlfriend, Lily Campanello. Olivia McAfee, Asher’s mother, initially believes in her son’s innocence, but as the case progresses, she is forced to confront the similarities between Asher and her abusive ex-husband. The book explores themes of gender identity, relationship abuse, and violence through the lens of its characters.


Mad Honey is a novel that alternates between the perspectives of Olivia and Lily. The story begins on the day of Lily’s death, and Olivia’s narration moves forward in time from that day, while Lily’s recounts events leading up to her death. Lily Campanello was born and raised in Seattle as Liam O’Meara. At age 12, her mother Ava takes her to Point Reyes, California, to escape her abusive father, who refuses to accept her gender identity. In Point Reyes, Lily starts hormone therapy but does not receive gender confirmation surgery until after a traumatic event at a school dance in New Hampshire. After the surgery, Lily and Ava move to Adams, New Hampshire, where Ava decides to keep Lily’s past a secret.

In Adams, Lily meets and begins dating Asher Fields, whose mother is Olivia McAfee, an apiarist. Lily is cautious about revealing her past and does not tell Asher she is transgender at first. They grow closer, but after Lily tells Asher about her past suicide attempt and her trans status, he withdraws. Eventually, they reconcile and continue their relationship until Lily’s death. Asher becomes the prime suspect in her murder and is arrested after his fingerprints and DNA are found in her room. Olivia’s brother, Jordan McAfee, a famous defense attorney, defends Asher. During the trial, it is revealed that Lily is transgender, a fact unknown to everyone except Ava and Asher. Maya, a friend of Lily’s and Asher’s, testifies for the prosecution but later confesses that she accidentally pushed Lily down the stairs during an altercation over Lily’s phone.

After the trial, Asher is acquitted, and Maya’s confession is not pursued by the prosecution. Ten months after Lily’s death, Asher goes to college, and Ava leaves Adams. Olivia gives Ava a jar of honey, reflecting the novel’s themes of healing and hope. The novel explores themes of gender identity, abuse, and love.

Mad Honey Book Review

Mad Honey is a gripping murder mystery novel co-authored by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan. The story follows Olivia McAfee, who runs away with her son Asher to start a new life after discovering her husband’s dark side. Years later, Asher begins dating Lily Campanella, a young woman who has recently moved into town with her mother. The story takes a tragic turn when Olivia receives a phone call from Asher, revealing that Lily has been murdered, and Asher is being questioned by the police. What follows is a captivating murder investigation, with two lives closely scrutinized and dark secrets exposed.

The novel is narrated in alternating perspectives and on a non-linear timeline by Olivia and Lily. The writing format works perfectly, and the story unfolds slowly and compellingly from each of their perspectives. The book touches on several themes, including identity, abuse, self-acceptance, intolerance, toxic relationships, and trust. It is an emotional and gut-wrenching read, with the authors handling the sensitive topics compassionately.

What’s impressive about Mad Honey is the amount of research the authors must have done to create the story’s depth and complexity. The characters are multidimensional and feel real and whole, even the secondary ones. Overall, This book is a brilliantly layered, thought-provoking, heartbreaking page-turner by two talented authors. It’s a must-read for anyone who loves a good murder mystery and a book that leaves you thoroughly satisfied.

Mad Honey PDF Book by Jodi Picoult

Main characters in Mad Honey

This book features a wide array of well-developed and multidimensional characters. The two main protagonists are Olivia McAfee and Lily Campanella.

Olivia is a beekeeper who has left behind a difficult past with her abusive husband, a cardiac surgeon. She is the mother of Asher Fields, a high school student who falls in love with Lily. Olivia’s character development is centered on her past trauma as well as her relationship with Asher and her growing concern for his safety and well-being.

Lily, on the other hand, is a young transgender woman who has had a tough life, having been rejected by her father, ostracized by her peers, and humiliated at a school dance. Her character development revolves around her struggle with her identity, her past trauma, and her relationship with Asher.

Other notable characters include Jonah, Lily’s ex-boyfriend, who humiliates her at the school dance; Maya, Asher’s best friend, who harbors feelings for him; Ava, Lily’s mother, who moves with her to Adams to start a new life; and Braden Fields, Asher’s abusive father, who has a contentious relationship with Olivia.

All of these characters, even the supporting ones, are well fleshed out and feel like real people. The authors do an excellent job of exploring their motivations, past traumas, and relationships, creating a rich tapestry of characters that drives the novel’s plot forward.

Detail Book

Author : Jodi Picoult, Jennifer Finney Boylan
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Ballantine Books
Release Date : October 4, 2022
Language ‏ : ‎ English
Total Page ‏ : ‎ 464 pages
ISBN ‏ : ‎ 9781984818386

Age Rating

The book does not have an official age rating. However, due to its mature themes and content, including depictions of abuse, violence, and suicide, it may not be suitable for young or sensitive readers. It is recommended for mature readers who are comfortable with the themes and subject matter presented in the book. Parents or guardians should use their own discretion when deciding whether or not the book is appropriate for their children.

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