Cover Image: The Honey Bus

The Honey Bus

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Member Reviews

So much information about bees and their habits just at a time when we are losing them to disease and use in the Almond groves, thank you Meredith May for explaining it all so well. 
Her story is one of strength and resilience explained in a way that you don’t see her as a powerless victim but as someone who will successfully forge a life that breaks away from the repeating  damage of abused children abusing the next generation.
This is a heartwarming book about how love and care in a difficult time can make a huge difference. I could not put this book down.
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This memoir stays at the edge of a history and life of bees, and the story of a young girl growing up in a difficult and challenging environment. I think we learn more about bees than we do about the family, but analogies are inevitably made between the behaviour of both. As with most families care is taken not to push the blame too publicly(in the human family that is) and we finish the book feeling a little cheated on the details of what went wrong. Although the idiosyncrasies of insects is interesting, I didn’t need quite so much detail about the bees. The statistics of the declining population was fascinating though, and it made interesting reading, especially if it helps to change modern farming and over use of chemicals generally., which it probably won’t.
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This is a tale of childhood neglect but not in the way you might think. Meredith and her brother Matthew are victims of a messy divorce and go to live with their grandparents where they are taught about the intricate lives of bees and how family is everything. 
I found myself totally drawn in by the story of the bees and their way of living as well as learning much more about these fascinating creatures. The story of Meredith and her family are so far removed from how bees love that the two sides of the story are a stark contrast but it really works as a metaphor for how we can love our loves better. 
A good solid read.
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I really struggled to get into this. The style just didn't appeal to me and I didn't find it as engaging as many other readers.

Still, I persevered and did eventually come to enjoy it. It's not a bad book. This is really more a question of personal taste.

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC without obligation.
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This book taught me plenty about bees. Wasn’t sure about it but glad I gave it a chance. Nd I’m now rather fascinated by bees.
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Just an absolutely beautiful book, charming  and sweet and a total delight. Not just usual book to be honest and there are some heavy subjects discussed in it but I general it’s just beautifully written and I was totally in love with it, what a gem this one is and should be read by everyone!
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This was a beautiful coming of age story exploring abandonment, family history, values and honey-bees. Beautifully written with a powerful narrative.
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One of the most touching books I have ever read. It will stay with me for a long long time. As well as being biographical it is so informative about bees and how important they are to our survival. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Everyone should read it.
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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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