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

4.37  ·  Rating details ·  514 ratings  ·  170 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 ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published April 2nd 2019 by Park Row
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4.37  · 
Rating details
 ·  514 ratings  ·  170 reviews

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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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
Apr 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, firstreads
I won this book in a goodreads drawing.

The memoir of a woman who, as a girl went to live with her grandparents when her parents split up. Her grandfather was a bee keeper, and kept hives in an old abandoned bus. Keeping bees teach her life lessons.

A look at a life that could be sad, but is instead hopeful.
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
May 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Bees never cease to amaze me. This book weaves a very personal story of a young girl's struggles and perseverance based, in part, on the journey she takes as she learns about these miraculous insects by her grandfather's side. I enjoyed it, despite the sometimes disturbing journey her family life took. Now if I can only figure out how to become a hobby beekeeper....
Shirley Cagle
Jan 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I simply could not put this book down. The juxtaposition of the two small children effectively abandoned by their parents and the caring, patient step-grandfather was in turns jarring and joyous. The twining of beekeeping tidbits and the step-grandfather’s love into the story of Meredith’s childhood provided a respite from what would have been a very sad tale.
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Five-year-old Meredith and three-year old Matthew are moved from the east coast and removed from the father whom they love by their unstable and unbalanced mother who takes the three of them to Big Sur on the West Coast and to her parents’ home for a “vacation.” It becomes apparent that the vacation is permanent as it stretches into years. Sally, their mother climbs into bed and stays there, reading movie magazines and watching television, leaving her children to their grandparents.

It’s through
One of my favorite reads of 2019 so far. May's memoir is about growing up in a dysfunctional series of homes and how she came to find beekeeping a way of not only working through her familial challenges but also as a means of finding hope.

When she was young, May's parents went through a messy divorce following her mother's outbursts and abuse toward her father. Her mother took her and her brother from their home in Rhode Island to the home of her grandparents in Big Sur, California. Mom disappea
May 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
This is a lovely book. It is a dual portrait of the greatest positive influences on one young girl's life: bees and the grandfather who introduced them to her. The author's difficult childhood was turned into a thing of beauty through the connection to nature her grandfather helped forge. After her parents' separation and eventual divorce, the author's mother took the two children (the author and her younger brother) from Rhode Island back to Carmel, California to live with her own mother. The a ...more
Ginni Brinkley
Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to Harlequin UK, Meredith May and Netgalley for the ARC in return for an unbiased review.

I probably wouldn’t have come across The Honey Bus without an email from Netgalley, but I’m so glad I did. Meredith and Matthew’s parents broke up messily, and their mother took them across the country to live with her mother and stepfather. The origins of their mother’s long lasting mental illness and depression aren’t revealed until near the end of the book, but she takes little part in parenting
May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I just loved this book. As a bee keeper I loved the relationship she had with her grandfather, who mentored her in beekeeping. I also loved the way she wrote about her mother and grandmother but without telling you what they were like but let you figure out on your own what kind of people they were. The photos of her grandfather are so sweet and you can just feel the love he had for life by seeing those photos. A great balance between learning about bees and a human interest story of a young gir ...more
Kimberlee (reading.wanderwoman)
May 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
I fell in love with Meredith's story and especially her relationship with her grandpa, her brother and the bees. Growing up with an estranged mother at such a young age always leaves so many questions. This story also shows how smart children can be, as well as how much they're capable of learning just about anything if given the opportunity.

A fantastic read for any memoir lover. Highly recommend it.
Feb 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
May’s childhood was an unenviable one – after her parents divorced, her unfit and dysfunctional mother brought May and her brother to live at the home of their uncaring grandmother. Thankfully, this ugly family cycle was broken by her step-grandfather, a kind and observant man who kept bees in Carmel Valley and processed honey in a rattletrap bus in his backyard. May’s memoir is a tribute to this good man, who offered her love and a glimpse of a different life – and to the bees and the natural w ...more
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best memoirs I've read. Meredith tells her story from the point of view of the healthy adult she has become. Thanks to the love of her grandfather, she was able to learn what family is supposed to be.
And the story is full of fascinating facts about bees! They have a lot to teach us about how to work in society.
I highly recommend this uplifting story.

I was provided an ARC by #NetGalley
A powerful and inspiring book which is beautiful and utterly heartfelt. I haven't been so moved by a book in a long while and finished this with a lump in my throat. A wonderful story of bees, family, heartbreak and love. Utterly wonderful!
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing

The Honey Bus could be called the Beloved or the Dear Bus and I wouldn't have batted a lash for how deep Meredith May delves into what it is to be loved (or not loved) and what it is to take sanctuary in loving (bees, honey, work).

This is a perfectly-paced, gorgeous memoir, and a tribute to May's Grandpa and May's ability to conjure bitter and sweet from her childhood in scenes you'll feel like you witnessed or participated in. This memoir moved me. I tasted the ghost of honey on my tongue and
Leslie Lindsay
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A glowing, powerful memoir about one girl's courage to overcome her mother's dysfunction under the tutelage of her bee keeper grandfather.

I was absolutely entranced by THE HONEY BUS (HarperCollins/Park Row April 3), which is a memoir at heart, but so much more. Meredith May is 5 when her parents divorce and she, her mother, and younger brother leave Rhode Island for California where May's grandparents live.

The setting--Big Sur, Carmel, and the Palo Colorado Canyon--oh! I could taste the sea sa
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am, more than a little bit, in awe of this extraordinary memoir. It is beautifully written, brutally honest, funny and heartbreaking. As the sub-title says, it is a memoir of loss, courage and a girl saved by (honey) bees.

Meredith is five years old when her parents separate and her mother takes her and her brother to live with their grandparents in the Big Sur, California. Her mother is suffering from mental illness and Meredith’s grandmother is complicit in disguising this issue. This leaves
Mar 13, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
There is much to like about this memoir. The grandfather is such a wise and nurturing figure to two struggling children of recently divorced parents that his presence almost makes up for their dysfunctional mother and grandmother. The information shared about keeping bees and bee needs and habits is both interesting and important to those concerned about the wholesale deaths of our bee colonies. One of the aspects that I had trouble with was the portrayal of the author as a 6 year old able to wo ...more
Lel Budge
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
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 wri
Mar 31, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019, arc
Truly a beautiful and fascinating recollection of May's childhood.

The memoir starts with my worst fear happening to Meredith - bees getting caught in my hair. I was pulled in right away, and was continuously gripped by her descriptions of time spent with honeybees and her grandfather. Meredith grieves the loss of her sense of family, her childhood, and understanding of the world around her. The lessons Meredith and her brother Matthew learn in this book will be carried away with whoever reads it
Diane Les
Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
This is an absolutely lovely, tender memoir that captures the formative years of the author. We see May as a young girl, whose lessons in love are shown to her through the gentleness of her step-grandfather, and whose life lessons and wisdom she receives through the beautiful metaphor of the fascinating community of bees. I loved learning about bees, about their different roles, their relationships with each other, their work habits - miraculous. And I cried for young May and the enormous defici ...more
May 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book stole my heart. My only gripe is that I wish it was longer. A bittersweet story of a broken family and a grandpa who is the bright spot in young Meredith’s life. Bees are amazing little creatures with stunning intelligence. Meredith learns to love and care for them and is taught life lessons at the same time.
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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 San Francisco. 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