When I was a kid, I would read the same books over and over again. I don’t know if it’s because I wasn’t aware of other books or if I just clung to those characters and their adventures because they enchanted me. If Honeybees and Frenemies by Kristi Wientge had been available to read when I was kid, it would read it over and over.
During the summer before eighth grade, Flor finds her life turned upside-down. Not only is her best friend off at band camp, but her father’s store might be closing, their family might be moving, and her parents keep fighting. Winning the local honey pageant means prize money that could save the store, and Flor is determined to become Queen Bee. Except to win, she has to compete with her former friend, Candice, who is still bitter about losing the pageant to her in second grade, and help an old recluse bee-keeper with yard work. Suddenly, Flor’s summer is looking a little bit sticky.
Honeybees and Frenemies is a cute story about friendship and family. But more importantly, it’s a realistic story about friendship and family. I never had a “dramatic” falling out with a friend like Flor and Candice but I remember going from elementary school to middle school and feeling the shift in friendships. I know what it’s like to suddenly stop talking to someone who used to be a close friend. I understand the unsteady relationship with an older sister who suddenly “grows up” and wants nothing to do with you. I remember the worry over having enough money or parents fighting or ruining everything with my words or actions.
Kristi Weintge captures the tween experience in a heartfelt and relatable way. Flor is a wonderful protagonist—she’s funny and stubborn and creative. She doesn’t hold back her thoughts or emotions, even if that lands her in a few sticky situations, but she also holds to what she believes and does what she believes is best. Flor’s voice, above else, makes this story.
I love the honeybee aspects as well. I don’t know much about honeybees, but the random facts before each chapter along with the focus on bee conservation and its uses as medicine were a perfect balance to the other conflicts of the story. It’s a unique focus for a book, and it was so cool to learn about bee bearding!
From the setting—Ohio!—to the relationship dynamics, Honeybees and Frenemies is a sweet and heartwarming story for any age group. Even as an adult, I related to Flor and her troubles, so I can definitely recommend this anyone someone looking for a fun contemporary.