Honeybee by Craig Silvey [6/10]

Craig Silvey’s bestselling debut, Jasper Jones, stormed the Australian literary scene and prospered overseas. A decade later, “Honeybee” is also a coming-of-age tale but boldly ventures into deep territory. The novel kicks off with teenager Sam Watson preparing to suicide off a bridge, only to be befriended by an older man with the same aim, and from there Honeybee rockets along as Sam attempts to navigate a tough world and his own transsexuality. He is a welcome hero, alternately frail and spirited, and the author shoots the plot in startling directions, but fundamentally the grand theme is love and acceptance. I found Honeybee to be wholly admirable but unaccountably flat, and the only factor I can attribute that to is the author’s style, a close-up, earnest, plain, Young-Adult-ish tenor that ultimately distanced me. So … don’t let me dissuade you from tackling this serious, worthy novel, for you may well take to Sam Walton’s in-the-moment voice. I certainly look forward to Silvey’s next work.

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