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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

Mad Honey

1. What surprised you about MAD HONEY? Did you have any emotional reactions? Discuss.

2. Both Olivia and Lily share a love for fun facts, especially about bees. What is the significance of having these bee facts in the book? Is there one that particularly stood out to you?

3. Olivia’s chapters move forward in time while Lily’s move backward. How did this affect the story’s narrative and the way information was revealed? Why do you think the authors specifically chose to focus the points of view on Olivia and Lily?

4. In many ways, Asher and Lily are two sides of the same coin. How does Asher’s relationship with Braden (or lack thereof) mirror Lily’s relationship with her own father, and how does this contrast with the relationships they have with their mothers?

5. Do you believe someone who hits and abuses their partner can ever change? And if you were in Olivia’s shoes, would you be worried about the potential cycle of abuse that could pass from parent to child? If so, what steps may you have tried to take to prevent this?

6. Did you agree or disagree with Olivia’s decision to keep Braden’s abuse a secret from Asher? Knowing what we know about the things Olivia and Asher hid from each other, does this ultimately do more to help or hurt Asher?

7. Do you believe that love between a parent and child can be unconditional? Are some actions, taken by either the parent or child, beyond redemption and deemed unforgiveable? Discuss.

8. Was the volatility of Lily’s relationship with Asher a red flag (a sign that a person will turn out to be --- or is --- a bad or problematic partner), or something that could be chalked up to a teenage relationship?

9. At one point, Jordan snaps at Asher and says, “The truth has no place in a court of law, goddammit.... And since the prosecution’s already painted you as an abuser and a liar, how good do you actually think your word is?” In what ways do the procedures of this trial --- and the larger justice system --- affect Asher and the other witnesses?

10. The court of public opinion impacts all the characters involved in the case, something we’ve seen continuously play out in contemporary society, especially with the popularity of social media and instant access to the news cycle. Do you think it’s fair for casual observers to take sides and make assumptions about events they see and hear, and why do you think we, as a society, are so drawn to doing this?

11. What did you think when you learned that Lily was trans? And which societal factors in your life may have affected how you felt about this?

12. During Elizabeth’s conversation with Olivia, she says, “You know what they say: if you’ve met one trans person, you’ve...met one trans person. What’s true for Lily might not be true for someone else.” Which other movies, shows and/or books offer genuine depictions of the trans characters and stories featured?

13. How did you think Lily died before it was revealed in the end? Did you make certain assumptions about other characters, and who was your prime suspect?

14. One of Olivia’s beehives is attacked by a bear, and she springs into action to save the bees, even as she knows it’s a lost cause. What does this symbolize within the larger story?

15. What do you think about the prosecutor’s decision not to charge Maya? Do you think Mike is correct in assuming that Ava prefers this as well? Why or why not?

Mad Honey
by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan

  • Publication Date: September 5, 2023
  • Genres: Fiction, Women's Fiction
  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
  • ISBN-10: 1984818406
  • ISBN-13: 9781984818409