Mad Honey, Love, Loss, and Trauma

Love, Loss, and the Sting of Trauma: Exploring “Mad Honey”

“Mad Honey” is not your everyday novel. It’s a rich tapestry of human experience woven by two formidable authors, Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan

This book acts as a mirror, reflecting the complexity of love, loss, and trauma. Through the following section, we’ll explore the compelling story and its captivating characters. 

This blog post isn’t just a review; it’s an invitation to readers to delve into the human spirit that the book vividly brings to life.

Key Characters in the Book

  1. Olivia McAfee: A strong and resilient apiarist, single mother, and narrator of the story, deeply connected to her family’s beekeeping tradition.
  2. Asher Fields: Olivia’s son, a counselor for a hockey team, and a central figure in the novel, facing challenges related to his gender identity and a murder accusation.
  3. Braden Fields: Asher’s father, a doctor, and Olivia’s abusive ex-husband, whose past actions impact the family dynamics.
  4. Jordan McAfee: Olivia’s supportive older brother, who plays a crucial role in defending Asher during the murder trial.
  5. Lily Campanello: Asher’s girlfriend, a talented cellist who is transgender, adds complexity to the story’s themes of identity and relationships.
  6. Ava Campanello: Lily’s mother, who likely plays a significant role in Lily’s life and the unfolding events.
  7. Maya Banerjee: Asher’s friend, providing support and insight into the challenges faced by the characters.
  8. Dirk Anderson: Co-captain of the hockey team, potentially influencing Asher’s experiences within the sports environment.
  9. Bob Ross: An American painter, possibly serving as a reference or influence within the narrative.
  10. Aristaeus: The god of beekeeping, symbolizing themes of tradition, nature, and spirituality in the story.

Theme of the Book

Domestic violence shatters family dynamics and leaves deep scars, making the journey to overcome abuse and begin healing a lengthy one. 

Mad Honey” explores the destructive impact of Brandon’s abuse on his family.

Brandon, the abusive ex-husband of Olivia and the father of Asher is the main character and plays a central role in the story’s conflict. 

The book deeply delves into how Brandon’s abuse affects Olivia and Asher’s bond, along with the

lasting impact of domestic violence on families. It highlights the challenges of victims in confronting abuse and the journey towards healing.”

It also emphasizes the need to confront abusive behavior in relationships and the difficult path towards healing and moving on from trauma.

Defining characteristics of Brandon in Mad Honey

Brandon is Asher’s father in the book. Although he is a doctor, he is an abusive husband, leading Olivia, Asher’s mom, to leave him for a new start with Asher. 

Brandon’s abusive nature deeply affected both Olivia and Asher, and his influence lingers in their

lives even after they moved on. 

Brandon’s role contrasts sharply with Asher’s kindness, showcasing the damaging effects of toxic

masculinity and abuse on families.

Effects of Abuse on Victim Survivor’s Families

You may wonder how the conflict in Mad Honey affects Asher and Olivia’s relationship. It affects their relationship in several ways. 

Olivia, who is Asher’s mom, firmly believes Asher didn’t kill his girlfriend, Lily. Yet, she notices he sometimes shows his father’s aggressive behavior. This makes her wonder if Asher might have inherited his dad’s abusive nature.

These doubts cause a strain between mother and son, as Olivia tries to balance her love for Asher with fears of his potential for violence. 

Their relationship is also strained by Asher keeping secrets from Olivia, leading to mistrust. 

The conflict in “Mad Honey” pushes both characters to face their past hurts and reassess their relationship with each other based on what they learn.

Love and Loss

Our story opens with Olivia McAfee, a single mother deeply entwined in her family’s beekeeping legacy. Her world revolves around two pivotal figures—her son, Asher, and the delicate dance of parenthood in the shadow of past trauma. 

Asher’s struggle with the death of his transgender girlfriend, Lily, presents a profound loss that resonates throughout the story. It challenges readers to face life’s fragility and the profound impact of heartbreak.

Despite all the evidence against Asher, Olivia was sure that he didn’t commit the crime. Their relationship’s foundation of trust and understanding remained unyielding against its toughest challenges.

The Sting of Trauma

The enigmatic figure of Braden Fields, Olivia’s abusive ex-husband, casts a long shadow over the McAfee family, one that refuses to be eclipsed by time or distance. His presence looms over the story, imbuing it with a tension that is both tangible and deep.

Through the lens of trauma, we witness Asher’s profound battle with the fear of perpetuating his father’s legacy. Alongside this, Olivia makes a determined effort to shield him from what she perceives as his unavoidable destiny.

“Mad Honey” does not shy away from the darkness within the human soul. Instead, it illuminates the subject, challenging readers to delve deep and emerge with a heightened sense of empathy and insight.

The Power of Healing

Even in the darkest times, there’s always a bit of hope. In “Mad Honey,” the story shows that healing can be a powerful source of light.

Our characters create a network of support, linking their destinies with a strong bond that comes from going through pain and perseverance together.

The story’s message on resilience and healing deeply touches readers, encouraging them to face their past traumas to move toward a brighter future.

This novel explores how people can change, highlighting how love can redeem us and how community can heal us.
Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan, Author of Book Made Honey talk about Theme and Motiviation for writing the Book.


As the last pages turn, “Mad Honey” stays with you, a story hard to forget. It’s a powerful journey through love’s complexities, the deep impact of loss, and the strong desire to heal from past pain.

If you’re interested in stories filled with real human experiences and deep emotions, “Mad Honey” is definitely a book you should read. It provides the emotional relief of a good story, as well as a chance for self-reflection and growth.

In an age where acceptance and awareness stand as the pillars of change, “Mad Honey” calls out the stark difference between mere tolerance and true inclusion. It stands at the crossroads of modernity, questioning the essence of identity, the struggle for justice, and the ultimate meaning of family. 

To ban a book is to guard against knowledge, and “Mad Honey” has overcome such controversy, but it’s precisely in these moments of scrutiny that its worth becomes most apparent—provocative, unyielding, and deeply resonant.

Don’t just read “Mad Honey”; immerse yourself in it. Engage with its characters, question its narrative, and emerge enriched by its wisdom. The unyielding mantra of love, the reflective understanding of loss, and the indefeasible spirit of healing await you in its pages.

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