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Cover of Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney BoylanMad Honey

by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan

GENRE: Contemporary Fiction, Thriller, Romance

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.

Discussion Guide

Headshot of Jodi Picoult Author Biography

Jodi Picoult is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of thirty novels, including Mad Honey, Wish You Were Here, The Book of Two Ways, A Spark of Light, Small Great Things, Leaving Time, The Storyteller, Lone Wolf, Sing You Home, House Rules, Handle with Care, Change of Heart, and My Sister's Keeper, and, with daughter Samantha van Leer, two young adult novels, Between the Lines and Off the Page.

Picoult’s books have been translated into thirty-four languages in thirty-five countries. Four novels – The Pact, Plain Truth, The Tenth Circle, and Salem Falls - have been made into television movies. My Sister’s Keeper was a film released from New Line Cinema, with Nick Cassavetes directing and Cameron Diaz starring. Mad Honey is currently in development for a series/film. Small Great Things has been optioned for motion picture adaptation. Picoult also wrote five issues of DC Comic's Wonder Woman. Picoult is the co-librettist for the stage musical adaptation of her two Young Adult novels, Between The Lines and Off The Page, co-written with her daughter Samantha Van Leer, which premiered Off-Broadway in Summer 2021 and will be licensed through Music Theatre International during the fall of 2022. She is also the co-librettist of the musical Breathe, which was inducted into the Library of Congress's Performing Arts COVID-19 Response Collection; and of the musical adaptation of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, which will play at the Coventry Belgrade and the Leicester Curve in the fall of 2023.

Picoult is the recipient of many awards, including the New England Bookseller Award for Fiction, the Alex Awards from the YALSA, a lifetime achievement award for mainstream fiction from the Romance Writers of America, the NH Literary Award for Outstanding Literary Merit and the Sarah Josepha Hale Award. She holds honorary doctor of letters degrees from Dartmouth College and the University of New Haven. She is a patron of the Carole Shields Prize for Fiction which is awarded to female fiction writers.

Picoult lives in New Hampshire with her husband. They have three children. - Author's Website

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Cover of Jennifer Finney Boylan

Professor Jennifer Finney Boylan, author of eighteen books, is the inaugural Anna Quindlen Writer in Residence at Barnard College of Columbia University.

She serves on the Board of Trustees of PEN America, the nonprofit advocating for authors, readers, and freedom of expression.  From 2011 to 2018 she served on the Board of Directors of GLAAD; she was co-chair of GLAAD’s board of directors from 2013-17. She also is a member of the faculty of the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference of Middlebury College, and the Sirenland Writers’ Conference in Positano, Italy.

For many years she was a Contributing Opinion Writer for the opinion page of the New York Times; she has also been a member of the Board of Trustees of the Kinsey Institute for Research on Sex, Gender, and Reproduction.

Her most recent book is the memoir Good Boy: My Life in 7 Dogs, published by Celadon/Macmillan in April of 2020. Her next book project is the novel Mad Honey, co-authored with Jodi Picoult, slate for publication in autumn of 2022 by Ballantine/Random House.

Her 2003 memoir, She’s Not There: a Life in Two Genders(Broadway/Doubleday/Random House) was the first bestselling work by a transgender American. A novelist, memoirist, and short story writer, she is also a nationally known advocate for human rights. Jenny has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show on four occasions; the Today Show, the Barbara Walters Special, NPR’s Marketplace and Talk of the Nation; she has also been the subject of documentaries on CBS News’ 48 Hours and The History Channel. She served as an advisor to the television series Transparent

She lives in New York City, and in Belgrade Lakes, Maine, with her wife, Deedie. They have a son, Sean and a daughter, Zai. - Author's Website

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Best-selling Picoult and Boylan team up for this timely, gripping story about a teen accused of murdering his girlfriend. Olivia McAfee fled her abusive husband, hoping to protect their then six-year-old son, Asher. Olivia brings them to the New Hampshire farm where she was raised, and Asher grows up to be a thoughtful, popular teen. When Asher starts dating a new girl in town named Lily, Olivia is happy for him, until she gets a horrific call from Asher who tells her that Lily is dead after falling down a flight of stairs. Suspicion immediately lands on Asher as he was the only person at the house with Lily when she fell while the two were in the middle of an argument. Asher is swiftly arrested, and Olivia calls in her brother, Jordan, a defense attorney longtime Picoult readers will recognize from some of her previous books, including Nineteen Minutes (2007), to defend Asher. The courtroom drama makes for gripping reading; a reveal about Lily at the midway point adds another dimension to the case, and Olivia grapples with the possibility that her son could take after her ex-husband more than he does her. This timely and absorbing read will make readers glad these two powerful writers decided to collaborate.HIGH DEMAND BACKSTORY: Perennially popular novelist Picoult and Boylan, known for her fiction and seminal works about the transgender experiences, will bring in droves of intrigued readers.


The shocking murder of a teenager thrusts a small town into the headlines and destabilizes the lives of everyone who knew her. Olivia McAfee, a professional beekeeper and single mother, fled Boston and an abusive husband to try to give her son, Asher, a better life in small-town New Hampshire. Things go well for their first 12 years in Adams. Asher is a well-liked senior and captain of the high school hockey team; he barely remembers his abusive father; he and his mother have a great relationship; and he's preparing to go off to college. Then he meets Lily Campanello, a new girl who, like his mother, has fled a troubled past. Things get very serious quickly; then, one afternoon after they've had a fight, Asher finds Lily dead at the bottom of her basement stairs. Before he even has time to grieve, he's arrested and charged with her murder. What follows is a long and public courtroom trial in which everyone's secrets are exposed and even his own mother begins to question his innocence. Told in two storylines--one Olivia's, in the present, and one Lily's, going backward from the day of her murder--the novel is well plotted but sometimes feels long-winded, including characters who don't have much significance and details that don't seem relevant. It takes a while for the book to get moving, but once the trial begins, it becomes more compelling, and the courtroom scenes are where the writing shines brightest. The characters aren't as well developed as they should be, though, often feeling wooden or monochromatic--some always say the right thing while others always say or do the wrong thing--and the ending is predictable. A well-paced story that highlights several timely issues, with a stimulating courtroom trial that makes it worth reading. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Publisher's Weekly

Picoult (Wish You Were Here) joins forces with novelist and transgender activist Boylan (Long Black Veil) for a spellbinding yarn involving a teen's trial for murder. Beekeeper Olivia McAfee fled her abusive husband in Boston for New Hampshire with her six-year-old son, Asher. Twelve years later, Asher is charged with murdering his high school girlfriend, Lily, a newcomer to town. The story unfolds from Olivia and Lily's viewpoints (Lily's before the murder), and centers on the budding relationship between Asher and Lily and the subsequent court case against Asher, who is represented by Olivia's older brother, Jordan, a high-profile defense attorney who has appeared in previous Picoult novels. Both teens have troubled relationships with their fathers, and the authors painstakingly explore the impact of physically and emotionally abusive men on their families. After a big reveal in the second half, the canvas stretches to include a primer on transgender issues, and the shift is mostly seamless though sometimes didactic. More successful is the atmospheric texture provided with depictions of Olivia harvesting honey and the art of beekeeping, and the riveting trial drama. Overall, it's a fruitful collaboration. (Oct.)


Cover of Miracle Creek by Angie KimMiracle Creek
by Angie Kim

How far will you go to protect your family? Will you keep their secrets? Ignore their lies?

In a small town in Virginia, a group of people know each other because they’re part of a special treatment center, a hyperbaric chamber that may cure a range of conditions from infertility to autism. But then the chamber explodes, two people die, and it’s clear the explosion wasn’t an accident.

A powerful showdown unfolds as the story moves across characters who are all maybe keeping secrets, hiding betrayals. Chapter by chapter, we shift alliances and gather evidence: Was it the careless mother of a patient? Was it the owners, hoping to cash in on a big insurance payment and send their daughter to college? Could it have been a protester, trying to prove the treatment isn’t safe?

“A stunning debut about parents, children and the unwavering hope of a better life, even when all hope seems lost" (Washington Post), Miracle Creek uncovers the worst prejudice and best intentions, tense rivalries and the challenges of parenting a child with special needs. It’s “a quick-paced murder mystery that plumbs the power and perils of community” (O Magazine) as it carefully pieces together the tense atmosphere of a courtroom drama and the complexities of life as an immigrant family. Drawing on the author’s own experiences as a Korean-American, former trial lawyer, and mother of a “miracle submarine” patient, this is a novel steeped in suspense and igniting discussion.

Cover of Someone Knows by Lisa ScottolineSomeone Knows
by Lisa Scottoline

Allie Garvey is heading home to the funeral of a childhood friend. Allie is not only grief-stricken, she's full of dread. Because going home means seeing the other two people with whom she shares an unbearable secret.

Twenty years earlier, a horrific incident shattered the lives of five teenagers, including Allie. Drinking and partying in the woods, they played a dangerous prank that went tragically wrong, turning deadly. The teenagers kept what happened a secret, believing that getting caught would be the worst thing that could happen. But time has taught Allie otherwise. Not getting caught was far worse.

Allie has been haunted for two decades by what she and the others did, and by the fact that she never told a soul. The dark secret has eaten away at her, distancing her from everyone she loves, including her husband. Because she wasn't punished by the law, Allie has punished herself, and it's a life sentence.

Now, Allie stands on the precipice of losing everything. She's ready for a reckoning, determined to learn how the prank went so horribly wrong. She digs to unearth the truth, but reaches a shocking conclusion that she never saw coming--and neither will the reader.

Cover of When We Were Bright and Beautiful by Jillian MedoffWhen We Were Bright and Beautiful
by Jillian Medoff

You can have everything, and still not have enough.

Cassie Quinn may only be twenty-three, but she knows a few things. One: money can’t buy happiness, but it’s certainly better to have it. Two: family matters most. Three: her younger brother Billy is not a rapist.

When Billy, a junior at Princeton, is arrested for assaulting his ex-girlfriend, Cassie races home to Manhattan to join forces with her big brother Nate and their parents, Lawrence and Eleanor. The Quinns scramble to hire the best legal minds money can buy, but Billy fits the all-too-familiar sex-offender profile—white, athletic, and privileged—that makes headlines and sways juries.

Meanwhile, Cassie struggles to understand why Billy’s ex Diana would go this far, even if the breakup was painful. And she knows how the end of first love can destroy someone: Her own years-long affair with a powerful, charismatic man left her shattered, and she’s only recently regained her footing.

As reporters converge outside their Upper East Side landmark building, the Quinns gird themselves for a media-saturated trial, and Cassie vows she’ll do whatever it takes to save Billy. But what if that means exposing her own darkest secrets to the world?