Oct 22, 2012

Blackberry Winter

Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio

My rating: 5 stars

Overview from Goodreads: Seattle, 1933. Single mother Vera Ray kisses her three-year-old son, Daniel, goodnight and departs to work the night-shift at a local hotel. She emerges to discover that a May-Day snow has blanketed the city, and that her son has vanished. Outside, she finds his beloved teddy bear lying face-down on an icy street, the snow covering up any trace of his tracks, or the perpetrator's.

Seattle, 2010. Seattle Herald reporter Claire Aldridge, assigned to cover the May 1 "blackberry winter" storm and its twin, learns of the unsolved abduction and vows to unearth the truth. In the process, she finds that she and Vera may be linked in unexpected ways...

You all know how much I love Sarah Jio as an author. I've read her books, The Violets of March, and The Bungalow, I even talked to her on the phone during book club, and I can't say enough good things about her. I loved The Violets of March, and compared reading The Bungalow to the excitement of a second date. But her third book - Blackberry Winter - surpassed them both.

This story was so powerful I get tears in my eyes simply thinking about it.

I related to both the main characters (Vera and Claire) in very different ways, even though they were in different eras and struggling with different issues. Sarah Jio has a way of making her characters so real you feel like you're with them. There were times I could almost feel the warmth of a mug as Claire drank hot cocoa, or the worry Vera carried about money during the Great Depression - the story enveloped me from the beginning and over a week later I don't yet want to leave that cocoon.

I'm not telling you a whole lot about the plot because I don't want to give anything away but there were so many deep issues touched on in this story - love, class differences, money, marriage, children - I didn't expect them to all fit together so seamlessly but they did.

One of my favorite parts of the book was halfway through when a few familiar characters made a quick cameo (I'm not giving you anymore details - you'll have to read to find out who it is!), and I read this quote:

" '...contrary to what most people think, the definition of a true friend is not someone who swoops in when you're going through a rough patch.' She shook her head. 'Anyone could do that. True friendship,' she says, 'is when someone can appreciate your happiness - celebrate your happiness, even - when she's not necessarily happy herself.' " (pg 141)

After reading that I had to put the book down because I started crying - it resonated so much with me. Ever since being diagnosed with PCOS I've been afraid there would be times I wouldn't be happy for someone in my life who was pregnant - I never wanted to be the person who was jealous or bitter. So far that hasn't happened (remember how much I loved that baby shower), and I love that I can be happy for others, especially when they're experiencing what we so desperately want. That quote made me happy and proud and so grateful that I can go back to read it in print over and over again.

The beauty of this story haunts me. I absolutely cannot recommend it enough.

Have you read Blackberry Winter or anything else by Sarah Jio? What did you think? (No spoilers in the comments, please!)


Amber @ A Little Pink in the Cornfields said...

I LOVED that cameo! I cannot believe I forgot about that until now. This was such a wonderful novel and I am continuously blown away by the stories and characters she creates!

Anonymous said...

I will add this book to my stack of must reads! I am in school and working full time. I have no time to read and I absolutely HATE it! I have tried to carve out 30 min a day to read but it never works :(

Amber said...

I have this book on hold at the library and can't wait to read it! I just know I will love it since I loved her other two books and you and Lisa have both raved about it!

Kelly (She Wears a Red Sox Cap) said...

I loved, loved, LOVED this book too and I totally noticed that quote and loved it! You are definitely amazing for always being genuinely happy for your friends :)

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I read this and LOVED it. I gobbled it up in the span of about 48 hours, I think. I think that it was my favorite book yet!

I love that quote you shared - it is so true! I have had similar thoughts and wondered if I would struggle to be happy for those who got married while I remained single, but I haven't felt that way at all and have felt nothing but pure joy for them. I am not surprised that you still feel happy and excited for friends who are expecting. You are just that kind of person. :) I did dedicate a mile (#13) to you on Sunday and repeated the phrase, "please let Becky and Ben get pregnant." A lot. I hope God was listening. ;)

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