I was so keen to read the recently released Honeybee by Craig Silvey – his second book, Jasper Jones, is one of my favourite modern Australian classics. The movie of the same name is often studied by Yr 9 or 10 students – it’s the Australian version of To kill a mocking bird.
Honeybee is told in first person by Sam Watson, a fourteen-year-old transgender person who begins their story on the night they meet Vic on the Clayton Road overpass in Perth. Both Sam and Vic are forever changed by their chance meeting.
Silvey has been interviewed on a few podcasts and for a few newspapers where he discussed his research to find out more about the transgender and drag queen community. He read a section from his novel in an interview through Readings bookshop with Christos Tsiolkas – a scene where Sam listens to the drag queen Luna Moons entertain a bunch of hens’ parties at a drag queen show – epic!
There’s a wonderful array of characters in Honeybee – a nurse who works as a drag queen, an effervescent girl who befriends Sam, a wise psychologist, a thoughtful man who deals with motorbikes – many of Silvey’s characters embody different facets of kindness. But of course, there’s also the characters surrounding Sam who are into theft and drugs, and who hurt Sam – physically and emotionally.
Silevy wrote the book after hearing about a real-life Sam, who was seen and helped by Silvey’s brother and sister-in-law. They never found out what happened to this young person.
Sam felt like a real person to me – testament to Silvey’s writing.
Like Jasper Jones, this would make an excellent movie!