The Honey Bus

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 14 May 2019

Member Reviews

An absolutely magical journey as the author's relationships with her grandfather and the bees he keeps develop
May held me spellbound in this world that combines such a wealth of learning about the world of bees and a young girl's transition from childhood to womanhood.
This far surpassed my expectations and, although I rarely re-read books, this may well be one I return to in the future.

Thank you to NetGalley and HQ (Harper Collins Publishers) for this copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Thank you so much Netgalley for the giving me a copy of this!

This book really intrigued me and it did not disappoint. This isn't something that I would normally  read however the cover and synopsis called my  name and I am so glad that I managed to get the chance to read it!

My heart and feelings literally poured into this book. I'm so glad that I took a chance on this book because it truly was a beautifully written story about pain, grief, and the power of love despite coming from a dysfunctional family. I can't wait to be able to reread this book, I will be getting a hardcopy to go on my shelves. 

Some of the topics that are discussed in this book are so hard-hitting, please take care when reading. However the said topics are so important to be discussed and done with such care. 

Meredith beautifully interweaves her memoir about the complexity of pain, love, growth, forgiveness, strength, and grief through nature and honeybees. One thing I took from this book in particular is knowledge upon honeybees. I didn't think I would get this from this book and it was such an added bonus and it has me intrigued. I will be reading more. 

I truly enjoyed this memoir and Meredith's story of her being saved by honeybees! Powerful and uplifting!!
100% recommend!
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Really enjoyed this book. It was a great read and I would highly recommend it to my bookclub.  Thank you net galley for the copy of the arc in return for a review.
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This was a powerful account of growing up in 70's California. A chronicle about a young girl growing up, overcoming obstacles and moving forward. As a five year old May finds herself facing the trauma of having to move to the West Coast to live with her grandparents after the breakup of her parents marriage and having to cope with her increasingly unstable and neglectful mother.  I absolutely loved the way May bonded with her (step)grandfather and the bees he keeps. He teaches her so much about the bees, how they communicate, eat, and protect their queen, providing May (and the reader) with a fascinating education and through the bees May learns to persevere and appreciate what she has. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this.
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The Honey Bus - Meredith May

What the publisher said:

‘The bee is more frightened than you,’ he said.
‘Can you imagine how scary it is to be this small in a world that is so big?’
He was right.
When she was five years old, Meredith May was abandoned by both parents. Her father left for the other side of the country. Her mother disappeared into herself.
But when Meredith discovered the rusted old bus where her grandpa kept bees, her world changed forever.
Family duty. Compassion and sacrifice. Unconditional love. The life of a honeybee displays it all. As her grandpa showed her the sacrifices bees make for their colony and the bonds they form with their keeper, Meredith discovered what family really means.
A rich and lyrical coming-of-age story, combined with spellbinding nature writing, The Honey Bus is the extraordinary story of a girl who journeyed into the hive – and found herself.


My thoughts:

There really is a trend for absent and terrible fathers in literature at the moment. I’ve said previously that I wonder if this is a reflection of world leaders and the destruction of our natural world. That mother nature might be around but she can’t function properly because man is intent on trashing everything she has created, or just ignores it because he has no compassion for it.

The Honey Bus is another example of this. A story of a girl whose role model in life is her grandfather. Someone who is not her blood relative, really understands Meredith. Doesn’t treat her badly or like a child. 

I really enjoyed the informative nature of The Honey Bus. How it explained the workings of a bee colony and as such that every bee is important. They all have a job to do and as a bonus we end up with a product so divine as honey. 

Meredith’s grandfather helps to give Meredith purpose, he helps her realise that her mums illness isn’t his granddaughters fault. Lifting the burden from her. Allowing her to grow her own wings and become the queen she deserves to be.

We could all do with a grandfather like that, or at least our own Honey Bus. 

A truly warming story where I was enthralled from start to finish.
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Perhaps I just failed to connect with this and that fault lies with me because there are a lot of people getting an awful lot out of reading this book. I found it very interesting - all the information about bees was generally new and fascinating, and in a world where bees are struggling that is great. However, I felt that the author wanted to wrote a memoir and write a book inspiring readers to keep bees. Clearly for many people these two strands worked well together, but for me they didn't.
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This is a beautiful memoir by a woman who lived through much and became a beekeeper because of the love of her grandfather. It is sad, funny, moving, annoying, heartbreaking - you name it, Ms May has achieved it. There will be no spoilers here but the journey from mixed up 5 year old scared of bees to a knowledgeable adult woman with skills and a love of our most important pollinator, is one you will want to share. She writes beautifully and she is honest about her relationship with her mother which I appreciate given mine was no ideal figure either. Recommended if you love memoirs of lives different to your own or if you want to learn more about the importance of bees to our culture and food chain. I have highlighted many passages and I will reread at some stage.

I was given a copy of this book by Netgalley in return for an honest review.
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Much more than just a memoir …


After her parents’ divorce, Meredith, aged 5 and her brother Matthew, aged 2 went with their mother to live with their grandmother and her second husband in Big Sur in California.   Here their mother abandoned her parenting duties and retired to her darkened bedroom from where she refused to come out, sinking deeper and deeper over the years into a black tunnel of depression and self-pity.

Parenting duties were taken over by the grandmother, formidable, strict and unsmiling while protecting her daughter against all noise and disturbance and leaving the two bewildered children more or less to their own devices. 

Fortunately, their step-grandfather was a completely different proposition.   A countryman and a hillbilly through and through, he was a self-employed plumber by trade and a fourth generation bee-keeper with an uncanny and intimate knowledge of honey bees, their lifestyle and language.   He was only too happy to share his passion with a fascinated 5-year old girl.  With her, he shared his countryman's wisdom and understanding of nature and of the circle of life.   As she watched him working with the bees, he told her about their dedication, hard work, loyalty and co-operation for the benefit and survival of the whole.  She was endlessly fascinated by the ordered workings bee colonies where every single bee knows her place and her job and is prepared to die in defence of the queen. 

This book is far more than a memoir.   I defy any reader not to be in awe of the intricate workings of a bee colony.   I never knew how many different jobs there were - nurse bees, guard bees, wax-producing bees, builder bees, pollen- and nectar-collecting bees and so on, and how each bee has an instinctive response to a threat to the whole.   We, the human race, owe a huge debt of gratitude and respect to the humble honeybee whose hold on life is fragile and severely threatened - mainly because of our actions.   The very least we owe them is to become aware of how just how much we depend on them for our very survival.

In spite of her severely bipolar mother and an almost loveless childhood with minimal parenting, Meredith, hungry for knowledge and with a fascination for bees, is now an award-winning journalist and a fifth-generation bee-keeper.  In this memoir, she writes candidly and movingly about her unconventional upbringing and how with the help of her step-grandfather and the bees she discovers all she needs to know about family life.  I feel enriched for having read it, and in my opinion, it thoroughly deserves its five stars.

Bennie Bookworm

Breakaway Reviewers received a copy of the book to review.
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I am in charge of our Senior School library and am looking for a diverse array of new books to furnish their shelves with and inspire our young people to read a wider and more diverse range of books as they move through the senior school. It is hard sometimes to find books that will grab the attention of young people as their time is short and we are competing against technology and online entertainments.
This was a thought-provoking and well-written read that will appeal to young readers across the board. It had a really strong voice and a compelling narrative that I think would capture their attention and draw them in. It kept me engrossed and I think that it's so important that the books that we purchase for both our young people and our staff are appealing to as broad a range of readers as possible - as well as providing them with something a little 'different' that they might not have come across in school libraries before.
This was a really enjoyable read and I will definitely be purchasing a copy for school so that our young people can enjoy it for themselves. A satisfying and well-crafted read that I keep thinking about long after closing its final page - and that definitely makes it a must-buy for me!
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Sad, but also hopeful.  I was drawn to 'The Honey Bus' because of the cover initially, but just had to read it once I learnt what it was about.  Beautifully written, and poignant.
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*** ARC provided by Netgalley via the publisher in exchange for an honest review. ***

I loved this book, it was beautifully written and pulled me if quickly which I often find unusual in a memoir. In fact, the only reason I requested to read this book was due to the bee link as I'm always so interested in them and have previously enjoyed fiction with links to bees.

There were so many sweet moments between Meredith and her grandfather, I found myself choked up a few times. I would absolutely look out for books written by this author again as I enjoyed the language she used and imagery she created. Also, if others also enjoyed this bee theme, they should check out 'The Secret Life of Bees' & 'Tell it to the Bees' which I also rate highly!
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Absolutely gorgeous book. I love books that not only tell an amazing story, but that also educate on a particular subject. I found learning about bees something I never knew I always wanted to learn! I found this book fascinating and couldn't put it down. Everyday I told my children new and amazing bee facts.
Besides my new found bee-knowledge I also thought the actual story was profoundly sad and a fabulous and heart-wrenching tale. And it was true!
When Meredith May was only five years old she moved with her brother and her mother. in with her Grandparents. Her Grandpa was a bee keeper and kept a honey bus. He taught her everything he knew- not only about bees but about life.
I recommend this book 100%. Can't wait to read more from this author in the future!
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I am not always a fan of the personal memoir of someone who isn't well known, however this a beautifully written and poignant tale of a girl growing up in circumstances that are far from ideal. In addition you have the bonus of learning about bees, their life and activity so that it almost a dual biography. 

Meredith May's mother absents herself from the lives of her children whilst sitting in the room or house next door. Her only interactions are fraught with terror / danger. Yet the book doesn't rail against the injustices but carries the sense of peace that her grandfather's presence and his bees give her.
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A heaven and a heartbreak all in one. Meredith May's mother, unable to face taking care of her children following the end of her relationship with their father, retreats to her mother's home with the children in tow. There, they get to know their step grandfather, a man who keeps bees and sustains the environment through his own actions, teaching the children how to keep bees with kindness and cares. May drafts these moments of teaching into the wider lessons of her hard early life, and the tragedy of a broken family is shown with dexterity and with hope. I'm really glad I picked this up.
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Simply a great book, where Meredith had to deal with the breaking apart of her family, and sought solace in the bee colonies her grandfather raised...this has real World implications on how functional and amazing honey bees are, and how families should aim to live as supportive a life as the bee colonies do...if you care about these irreplaceable insects  you'll love this book! 🐝🐝🐝
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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This book was an absolute masterpiece. I finished this in one sitting. I think I am biased as it has so many aspects of my upbringing. I felt a complete and utter personal connection to this book and physically couldn't stop reading. This book is heartfelt and unfair, yet hopeful and stubborn.
This is now one of my all-time favorite reads and one which I will never forget.
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This is a lovely piece of modern classic fiction, the tale of young Meredith and her brother who move to stay with the grandparents after their parents marriage breaks down.

Their mother is troubled and Meredith finds comfort with her grandfather and his beloved bees.

This is also an homage to the humble bee, it’s lifestyle and why we need these little creatures.

A story of life in a dysfunctional family and how resilient children can be with a little help. Wonderfully descriptive and emotional writing.

I would like to thank the Author/the Publishers/NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book for free in exchange for a fair and honest review
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Charming and intimate, The Honey Bus chronicled the formative years of Meredith, a 6 year old girl who moved from Rhode Island to her grandparents' house in California with her newly divorced mother and younger brother, Matthew. The 70s and 80s of Meredith's youth reminded me vividly of what was cool and how life was in this simpler time of Gremlin cars, Jordache jeans and colorful eye shadow. To say that Meredith had a rough time of it would be an understatement as the angst of the awkward teens were amplified by her mother, who refused to leave her depressive funk in bed, having no cares for either of her children. Luckily, Meredith's step-grandpa was all the role model she would need as he taught her about bees and many critical life lessons as well.

This is such a beautiful, touching story; it made a big impression on me. The difficulties faced by Meredith and Matthew were not the worst a child could face but certainly not conducive to healthy child rearing either. I felt every squeamish moment Meredith endured and cringed each time she had to venture out in the world with her horribly troubled mother. Grandpa was a real ray of sunshine with each story he shared and all the love he poured into these two foundling children. It wasn't an easy life, by far, but he proved a stabilizing force that would see them through to adulthood and a brighter future. 

A really lovely, generously frank story that is well worth a read especially if you, too, grew up during the magically peculiar time of the 70s and 80s.
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What a beautiful read, heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time, a wealth of lovely charecters interwoven in to a story that was so lovely, the bees were wonderful and I feel I know a little bit about these amazing creatures now
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A beautifully written story which is a clever extended metaphor. As with bees, so with people, except that bees seem to have things better sorted! 
I loved reading all about the bees and their fascinating way of life
Highly recommended
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the ARC
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