When Meredith and her brother are transplanted from Rhode Island to California in the 1970s, the world of honeybees and beekeeping become unexpected saviours in their unstable circumstances. 'Gramps' introduces Meredith to life in the hive and it is through this knowledge that she begins to understand herself and the people around her.
This is the thoughtful memoir of a troubled childhood, an encouraging demonstration of the healing power of nature and the difference one person can make in a child's life.
We all learnt a lot about the fascinating life of bees and beekeeping. The interweaving of the family story made it an easy and enjoyable read.
We all really enjoyed this book and learnt a lot about bees. The story was very well written with richly worded sentences and language. We loved the grandfather and the care he gave the children. He was a well developed character.
Everyone in the group enjoyed the facts about bees and how the author was able to link the life of bees to the life of the main character. Some of us did not enjoy the story as much. However, this was one of our most enjoyed books this year and lots of members found it an engaging read.
An exceptional story (an autobiography) about the author's family life and how she managed to cope with her severely depressed mother. The relationship the author had with her grandfather and his bees provided the stabilising that she needed. A thought provoking book with a wonderful insight into the bees' lives. The group loved it.
We all read and loved this book even though it is very sad. I just loved the information about bees. Just imagine if we behaved like bees and worked together and if we are not doing our job we are out. They are so caring and so amazing. Some people loved the characters. We all would recommend it.
This was probably our most popular book of the year. Everyone enjoyed it and it was a fascinating account of bees and how they lived, but also of a childhood with a depressed mother.
A very interesting book enjoyed by all members. It was surprising to learn how many members had been brought up with a hive in the garden.
Nicely expressed. Some thought it felt like two separate stories.
We all loved this book, easy to read, we loved learning details of bees and enjoyed the absorbing story.
We thought the story was beautifully crafted; the bee facts were cleverly interwoven and always relevant to the author's life, so they never became dry. We reflected on how one person can have a profound impact on someone's life and be the difference between a new start and history repeating itself. Our group have read some excellent biography/memoirs through BDS (where fact is often stranger than fiction) and this is definitely one of them.
We all enjoyed this book - found it easy to read with a good balance of Meredith's story of her young life, balanced with the life cycle of the honey bees. We appreciated the love and care their grandfather (step) gave to the two children in his lovely, practical fashion, but we also felt compassion for the children's mother and her inability to recover from her divorce. Have recommended the book to other people.
We all loved the book. The story of the bees fascinated us, with the parallel story of Meredith discovering the importance of working together and family - wonderful.
Everyone enjoyed this book and some loved it. A few thought there was too much detail about bees but we all learned something about these amazing creatures. Discussion focused on the family relationships and the harm passed through generations with the element of hope brought about by May's relationship with her grandfather and his bees. Easy to read.
Mixed opinions on this book. Some of us were captivated by the information about bees. Others were disappointed that the book didnt focus more on the family dynamics. It helped to remember that this was a memoir. A couple of people felt that the recollections of 5 year old Meredith were more adult like than could be expected of a child of that age. We all warmed to Merediths grandfather and the influence he had on her life.
A good read. Bees are fascinating creatures and we now know more about them than we ever thought possible! Childhood was hard for Meredith, but her grandfather and the bees were a calming influence.
We all enjoyed the book. Loved all the stories of the bees - none of us realised it was a memoir until the end!
Some found the volatile relationship within the family was very sad. Great story telling about the bees. We all learnt so much about bees one of us wants to take it up as a hobby. Too much of the book was spent on May's youth, and more should have been spent on her adult years. Easy read overall.
This book generated a lot of discussion around the intergenerational relationships, and we all loved the relationship May had with her grandfather, but also struggled with how May and her brother were treated by her mother and grandmother. The facts about bees were too much sometimes but overall most enjoyed learning more about bees.
The majority of the group really enjoyed this book. They learnt a lot about honeybees and the story evoked good discussion. A few felt that what the author said she felt as a young child, was more adult than a child would think at that age. Overall an interesting book.
Enjoyed very much by all of our group. Should be read by all ages.
There was quite a discussion in the Group re the grading of 'The Honey Bus'. Everyone enjoyed reading it and felt much more knowledgeable about honeybees and their habitat. Whilst half of us feel that the author had been successful in combining the world of bees with her childhood recollections, others were not as interested in the emotional aspects of the story. Our discussion was dynamic, touching on much from our own growing years.
We ALL loved this book. A well-written story.
A book much enjoyed by all. The details about bees were fascinating. Unfortunately because of lockdown we couldn't meet to discuss the book as there was so much we could have explored.
Best book of the year! This book sparked the best discussion on the incredible nature of bees, intergenerational trauma, and the power of positive loving relationships to heal. A beautiful story of love and resilience.
Some of our group really enjoyed it, others not so much. It would be good to remember this is non-fiction when reading it and written from a childs perspective. Some of us found it quite hard to get back into. The ending felt quite rushed. We did find the bee info really interesting though!
The members really enjoyed reading about the life of the bees and how the grandfather in his gentle way helped May understand the family dynamics. We felt sad for May's situation, and aware of the importance of the relationship she had with her grandfather. It was hard to read how the mother and grandmother did not protect the children, both from out of their own distress and trauma. Some of us felt that the author did not always write from a child's perspective, and that her adult experiences coloured her perspective, but overall a book o be recommended.
All enjoyed it, and found the questions elicited a good discussion around mental illness, family, stress, the memoir style, and bees!
A great read and only afterwards realized it was a memoir. Really like the information about bees and their communities. The lack of help for the daughter with depression was sad, but the wonderful grandfather and his relationship with his grand daughter was inspirational.
This book touched one of our readers so much that she communicated with the author! We all loved the bee theme and learnt heaps.
Animated discussion. Everyone enjoyed the book. Such a dysfunctional family, saved by the wonderful grandfather and his bees.
This generated lots of discussion around the relationship between the grandmother, mother and granddaughter. Very polarising storyline for our group. Overall our favourite book, and we loved the grandfather, granddaughter storyline.
We all enjoyed learning about the intricate, cooperative life of the bee community, and were less impressed with the human story! But the way that the one influenced the other made a very good read.
Enjoyed by all the members. A great insight into the life of bees, and the devastating effect mental abuse can have on a growing individual.
All enjoyed this memoir.
Everyone enjoyed this book - a great summer read.
As each reader got into the book and realised it was a memoir, it affected the way it was perceived. Some found the detail about bees too involved, but most thought it was informative and interesting. All our group were moved by the sadness of the lives of the main characters, and amazed at the fortitude of the writer. Altogether a positive response.
10/12 of our members rated this 5 stars. The combination and the relationship of the life of bees and the life of Meredith was terrific. And the writing is superb. Highly recommended to other groups.