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The Honey Bus: A Memoir of Loss, Courage and a Girl Saved by Bees

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  5,528 ratings  ·  928 reviews
An extraordinary story of a girl, her grandfather and one of nature's most mysterious and beguiling creatures: the honeybee.

Meredith May recalls the first time a honeybee crawled on her arm. She was five years old, her parents had recently split and suddenly she found herself in the care of her grandfather, an eccentric beekeeper who made honey in a rusty old military bus
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published April 2nd 2019 by Park Row
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Meredith May Judith, hi!
That is the number one question I get asked wherever I go to speak about the book ... what became of Matthew? (which tells me I should have…more
Judith, hi!
That is the number one question I get asked wherever I go to speak about the book ... what became of Matthew? (which tells me I should have added that update in the book!) Matthew and I are very close, he also lives in the Bay Area, he works for Apple, is married and also without kids, ran his own professional photography business for awhile, and although he is a very private person, he is proud of the book and happy to see Grandpa getting all the attention he deserves.(less)
Meredith May Well I like to keep my works-in-progress a secret (just in case they don't work out!), but I can say this: I am working on a second book about me and …moreWell I like to keep my works-in-progress a secret (just in case they don't work out!), but I can say this: I am working on a second book about me and my wonderfully imperfect puppy, Edith. (less)

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Average rating 4.32  · 
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Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to HARLEQUIN-Trade Publishing-Park Row for providing an advance reader copy via NetGalley.

This is a wonderful book about a girl growing up in the seventies amidst family upheaval and discord. As the book begins, Meredith and her little brother Matt are living in Rhode Island with their parents. The tension between the parents is so thick you can cut it with a knife. However, it is the simmering violent anger from the mother that is particularly unsettling. Following a final explosive a
Diane S ☔
Nov 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5000-2019, lor-2019
There is no doubt that a book one identifies with has more meaning, but I had no clue how close this book would come to mine. Like Meredith, I was five, and though I did not have a you get brother, I did have a you get sister, when my parents divorced. Like Meredith's mother, mine too took us to live with my grandparents, but luckily my mother was nothing like Meredith's. She did leave us during the week, taking a train into the city to work, returning only on weekends, but she was a loving moth ...more
Elyse  Walters
Aug 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Library - overdrive ebook!
Many thanks for the 3-day warning that the book was due!!!!

Meredith May was a journalist at the San Francisco Chronicle! I wish I can say I remember reading her articles. I’m sorry, I don’t.
This is Meredith May’s memoir.
It’s ABSOLUTELY TRUE what other readers have said. THIS IS A VERY MOVING STORY!!!
I don’t think it’s easy to finish reading it and not shed a few tears.
What could’ve been a very tragic story for a couple of children...was completely altered by loving
Sometimes a book just hits you hard; this book was like that for me. My childhood was nothing like May’s whose mother had major depression for years and neglected her children, serving up dishes of emotional abuse instead of the nutritive care that children deserve. I have children very close to me, however, whose parents were often negligent. I took one of them to therapy for years and the therapist told us that neglect is perhaps the most potent form of abuse.

May’s mother never seemed to reco
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I usually never gravitate towards reading memoirs but something hit home when I saw this cover and was intrigued.

I can tell you... I felt so at home in my heart and soul through 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.

Meredith and her brother Matthew grew up in a very dysfunctional family net. Both of Meredith's parents broke up in the beginning re
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
I don't read memoirs about dysfunctional childhoods. They're depressing and there are too many people in my life who've had bad childhoods, as well as sad stories you see on the news. I was attracted to Meredith May's memoir only for the bees and I love it so much I haven't shut up about it. Long after I forget her painful family issues I will remember this book with love. It's all because of Granddad and the bees.

May's memoir covers her life from ages five to fifteen, with an epilogue. When she
Cathrine ☯️
4 ✚ 🐝 🐝 🐝 🐝
I couldn't completely love this one because of the audio narrator Candace Thaxton. The only time I warmed to her was when she changed her voice and inflection doing a different character, but the story was so well done that it overcame that issue for the most part.
I live down the coast from Big Sur so loved the setting and the way bee keeping and appreciation was such a huge part of this memoir. If you aren't wise to their ways this is a superb opportunity to learn about their fascina
In my view, the cover, the title and the book description are misleading—the tone conveyed is too upbeat, too sunny, too happy. This book is about a dysfunctional family, the author’s family. When Meredith May was five and her brother three, her parents divorced. The kids were taken by their mother across the country from Rhode Island to Carmel, California, to live with their maternal grandparents, but their mom is depressive and seriously, mentally ill. She puts herself in her bed, in her room, ...more
Nov 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I don't really have a whole lot to say about this one except that I LOVED it!! I love so many memoirs, and this one is no exception. I love being able to read about people's lives that are so different from my own. Plus the honey bee aspects of the story were extremely fascinating. I wished the author would have read the audio book, but the narrator used was very good.

Meredith May grew up in a dysfunctional home with a volatile mother and mostly absent father. When her parents divorced, she fou
Kimberly Dawn
May 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“Bees need the warmth of family; alone, a single bee isn’t likely to make it through the night.”

THE HONEY BUS is a touching memoir of Meredith May’s 1970s childhood in Big Sur, California.

At age five after her parents’ divorce, Meredith, her mother, and brother left their home in Rhode Island to return to Big Sur to live with her maternal grandparents in their small home.

Meredith was left rudderless, as she had lost her father physically and her mother emotionally, to severe depression and viole
Jenny (Reading Envy)
When Meredith was 5, her parents separated and she moved with her mother and brother to her maternal grandparents' home. Her grandfather the beekeeper introduces her to the world of honeybees. It is a comforting, rural memoir and bees have great metaphor potential that the author utilizes through her Grandpa's voice. Research on bees runs throughout with a somewhat sad epilogue combining her grandfather's aging with the bee crisis.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGal
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars.

This is a sad memoir, not just because of the dysfunction in Meredith May's childhood caused by her depressed mother, but because it focuses in on what will happen if we don't pay attention to our waning honeybee populations. Wake up call. This is a crisis we all need to be worried about as it's not going to fix itself.

Meredith's grandpa was a fifth generation beekeeper and taught her how to care for the bees and assist him in every way. He was a fount of knowledge and she learned well
Diane Barnes
Sep 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: bedtime-books
A memoir of a young girl whose parents divorced and she and her brother were raised by their grandparents in Carmel, CA. Her grandfather was a beekeeper with hundreds of hives, and he and the bees saved her sad childhood with a distant, psychotic mother. I had no idea bees were so smart and have such an advanced society, but as the author points out, we can learn a lot from them. The grandfather was the star of this one though. Such a gentle, kind man.
Kathryn in FL
I read and completed this story with mixed feelings. I'm not particularly comfortable assigning a rating on someone's life experiences, especially when abuse is involved. I tend to overthink and compare my own experiences and those of others that experienced childhood suffering. It colors your perceptions so deeply, that you spend tremendous time in self-examination and observation to reinterpret this world after escaping. I have spent vast amounts of time in conversations with others discussing ...more
Why do I keep gravitating to depressing dysfunctional childhood memoirs? Could someone please remind me to step away? This is the story of Meredith, whose parents divorced when she was a child, and her mother took her and her little brother to live in California with Granny and Grandpa. Mom was useless, Granny was strict, but Grandpa loved the kids and taught them all about his hives, and about the bees who inhabited them.
Mike Sumner
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everyone should read The Honey Bus, a parable for our time, a beautifully composed memoir of, for the most part, a young girl - Meredith May - who, with her younger brother Matthew, experiences the despair of a broken home, separated parents and a dysfunctional mother. Moved away from their father and Rhode Island to live with grandparents in California. Step-grandpa is a beekeeper, has been for many years. A fount of knowledge about honey bees and their invaluable contribution to life. Uses an ...more
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I will recommend this memoir to every reader I encounter. This is truly one of "those books"-the kind that you will carry with you forever in your heart. You will be moved to tears and laughter and relief. You will learn about the amazing life of bees and come to comprehend the direness of what we all have been hearing for years about the disappearance of the bee and what that means for our future civilization. It is not a textbook-it is not dry or preachy-it is a story of a family that loves an ...more
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved this, life stories shared through a grandfather and bees. Beautiful memoir of a dysfunctional family, all shrouded under the love and care of bees. I especially loved this as I was listening while I gardened, across the pasture is a commercial beekeepers hives, bringing bitter facts to the forefront.
I lived in Carmel for many years, the familiarity was embracing. Of course this goes beyond bees, a mentally ill mom wreaked havoc in this family, but the guidance of a caring “step” grandfathe
Sally Boocock
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
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.
THE HONEY BUS: A Memoir of Loss, Courage and a Girl Saved by Bees by Meredith May is an extraordinary story of a girl, her grandfather and one of nature's most mysterious and beguiling creatures: the honeybee. The print book by Park Row has 18 glossy full colour photographs.
Franklin Peace, a fourth generation beekeeper, was May's step-grandfather who loved her dearly and introduced her to the life of honeybees. I think he was a wonderful superhero!
Peace taught his granddaughter all about the h
L.G. Cullens
Aug 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
I was hesitant to read this book because there are so many dysfunctional family stories they lose distinction in my reading. But, this story promised more than the usual blinkered human bubble perspective, and I was curious to see how the author framed her memoir in a more natural world vein.

In essence, the author improves her mental well-being gradually as she grows to womanhood with the help of a beekeeper grandfather. That in helping this grandfather with his beekeeping activities, learning t
Although I rarely read memoirs, I was intrigued by the 1970s California setting and the idea of a honey bus. I don't want to say too much about the story but it is a beautifully written coming of age story about a girl and her brother managing to thrive within a dysfunctional family. May's paternal grandfather becomes her saving grace and she deftly interweaves the ongoing story of the bees and the life lessons she learns from helping to care for her grandfather's hives. Although I have read oth ...more
Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Meredith May tells the story of a few tumultuous years of her childhood and she does so with such drama and feeling that it comes across as a fictional tale. But it isn't.
When Meredith's parents split in 1975, her mom took her and her brother across the country to Big Sur, CA to live with grandparents. Her mother then locked herself away in the bedroom for years, leaving the two children to fend for themselves and have their basic needs met by prickly Granny. If it wasn't for Grandpa and his ge
Michael Cayley
Mar 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a cross between a memoir of a difficult childhood and a hymn to the honeybee.

Meredith and her brother Matthew come to California with their unstable mother following the breakup of their parents’ marriage, to stay with grandparents. Grandfather is a passionate beekeeper, and in bees Meredith finds solace without sentimentality, as she discovers the intricate social life of bees, with both its cooperation and its capacity for ruthlessness.

Much of the book is taken up with superb accounts
Traci at The Stacks
This memoir was hit and miss for me. The stuff about the bees was so interesting and I learned so much. The stuff about her mother and granny felt really forced. The writing felt like her childhood self was writing it, but I could tell if that was a choice. It was just ok for me.

UPDATE: turns out this book is YA which makes more sense why i found the authors voice to be juvenile.
Missy Block
Nov 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully written memoir about Meredith, a child that not only learns to survive a dysfunctional mother, but learns thru the eloquent life of bees and the wisdom of her beekeeping grandfather how to navigate beyond the circumstances she was given. I fell into this book on page one and connected so deeply to Meredith and her Grandpa, that I couldn’t put the book down until I knew where their journey led them. While their personal story captured my heart, the plight of the honey bees gripped m ...more
RoseMary Achey
Jan 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A memoir that reads like a novel. May writes about her step-grandfather’s life lessons taught as he teaches her to understand and raise bees. I don’t just love this book because I am a beekeeper-it would appeal to anyone who desires an excellent read. The book moves at a perfect pace. There are enough interesting people and events to hook the reader and along the way May gently teaches us all a little about the fragile honeybee. Five wonderful stars.
Jeanette (Again)
The unconditional love between grandparent and grandchild is a sacrament. For those of us who don't have normal parents, that love is essential to our development. My special grandpa died when I was fourteen years old. Without even closing my eyes I can still see that gleam in his eyes that meant pure love to me. At family gatherings he would sit there in his old man onesie, watching us run and play, with a look on his face like he couldn't believe how lucky he was to have granddaughters like us ...more
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
My son is a beekeeper. I was drawn to this book from the cover and the description. Yes, I learned a lot about bees that I didn't know before. But this isn't just a book about bees. The author's reveals her early life when her parents split and she was dragged by her mother across the country to live with her grandparents. The book has been compared to Glass Castles, and yes, I can see the resemblance but I found this book to be more redemptive. The author's relationship with her mother is somet ...more
This captivating memoir is part coming-of-age family drama and part intro to bees 101. After her parents divorce, five year-old Meredith, her mom and younger brother relocate from Rhode Island to California to live with her grandparents. While tiptoeing around her despondent yet volatile mother, Meredith becomes fascinated with her Grandfathers bees, their hives and their behavior paralleling between human life and bee life. What you take away from The Honey Bus is that family can be complicated ...more
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Play Book Tag: The Honey Bus by Meredith May- 4 stars 1 4 Jan 31, 2021 08:37PM  
Review 1 1 Sep 15, 2020 07:29PM  
Author’s video of Grandpa’s Honey Bus 1 4 Sep 15, 2020 07:25PM  
Clean Reads: Family life, Bees 1 45 Aug 20, 2019 11:33AM  

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Meredith May is the author of THE HONEY BUS (HarperCollins/Park Row April 2019), and I, WHO DID NOT DIE (Regan Arts 2017). She is a fifth-generation beekeeper with several hives in Carmel Valley. During her 16-year career at the San Francisco Chronicle, her writing won the PEN USA Literary Award for Journalism and was shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize. She is a former professor of podcasting at M ...more

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