cover image The Honey Bus: A Memoir of Loss, Courage and a Girl Saved By Bees

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

Meredith May. Park Row, $24.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-7783-0778-5

Journalist May (coauthor, I, Who Did Not Die), a fifth-generation beekeeper in San Francisco, delivers a powerful account of growing up in 1970s California. When her newly separated mother brought May and her brother from Rhode Island to the West Coast to live with her parents, bees were terrifying to the five-year-old. May was forced to grow up fast with an increasingly unstable and neglectful mother. But May bonded and found safety, first with her kind step-grandfather, and later with the bees he kept to produce his prized honey. Nicknamed “The Beekeeper of Big Sur” by his customers, he drove his retrofitted former military bus to tend to his 100 hives along the coast and provided May a fascinating education, teaching her about how bees communicate, eat, and protect their queen. It was through the honeybees, she writes, that “I learned to persevere.” Leaving for college was a turning point for her: it was then that her mother shared her own history of physical abuse at her father’s hands. May learned that, unlike her mother, she needed to look at what she had—her grandfather and a gift for beekeeping—rather than what was missing. May’s chronicle of overcoming obstacles and forging ahead is moving and thoughtful. (Apr.)