Book Review: Honeybee by Craig Silvey


About the Book:

The highly anticipated new novel by the bestselling author of Jasper Jones.

‘Find out who you are, and live that life.’

Late in the night, fourteen-year-old Sam Watson steps onto a quiet overpass, climbs over the rail and looks down at the road far below.

At the other end of the same bridge, an old man, Vic, smokes his last cigarette.

The two see each other across the void. A fateful connection is made, and an unlikely friendship blooms. Slowly, we learn what led Sam and Vic to the bridge that night. Bonded by their suffering, each privately commits to the impossible task of saving the other.

Honeybee is a heartbreaking, life-affirming novel that throws us headlong into a world of petty thefts, extortion plots, botched bank robberies, daring dog rescues and one spectacular drag show.

At the heart of Honeybee is Sam: a solitary, resilient young person battling to navigate the world as their true self; ensnared by loyalty to a troubled mother, scarred by the volatility of a domineering stepfather, and confounded by the kindness of new alliances.

Honeybee is a tender, profoundly moving novel, brimming with vivid characters and luminous words. It’s about two lives forever changed by a chance encounter — one offering hope, the other redemption. It’s about when to persevere, and when to be merciful, as Sam learns when to let go, and when to hold on.

My Thoughts:

I don’t quite know what to say about this novel aside from the fact that it’s brilliant. Incredibly moving. Desperately sad yet life affirming in its intent. The main character, Sam, is the same age as my youngest son, fourteen, and every single time I was reminded about that throughout the novel, I’d be in floods of tears. To go through so much at such a young age, to be so abandoned, to feel so much shame and self-loathing; it constantly broke my heart.

There are some unbelievably wonderful characters in this novel. Vic was just the most accepting man, I was quite humbled by his characterisation and moved by the bond he developed with Sam, the way in which he stepped up to protect him. Also Peter and Aggie, who stepped into Sam’s life at just the right moment. I am left wondering, after reading this novel, at how incredibly isolating it must be for young people struggling with their identity and sexuality whilst living in small towns. Sam found Peter, and from there, some other supportive networks, but what if that doesn’t exist where a young person lives? Life was hard enough for Sam as it was and he was in a city.

This novel is magnificent. It has been a long time between releases from Craig Silvey, but it has been worth the wait.


Thanks is extended to Allen & Unwin for providing me with a copy of Honeybee for review.

About the Author:

Craig Silvey is an author and screenwriter from Fremantle, Western Australia.
His critically acclaimed debut novel, Rhubarb, was published in 2004. His bestselling second novel, Jasper Jones, was released in 2009 and is considered a modern Australian classic. Published in over a dozen territories, Jasper Jones has won plaudits in three continents, including an International Dublin Literary Award shortlisting, a Michael J. Printz Award Honor, and a Miles Franklin Literary Award shortlisting. Jasper Jones was the Australian Book Industry Awards Book of the Year for 2010.
Honeybee is his third novel.

Published by Allen & Unwin
Released 29th September 2020

8 thoughts on “Book Review: Honeybee by Craig Silvey

  1. Pingback: Top 20 for 2020 – Books to gift this Christmas | Theresa Smith Writes

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