Published by: Plume
Published on: September 25, 2012
Page Count: 320
Genre: Women’s Fiction
My Reading Format: Review copy sent to me by the publisher for consideration.
Available Formats: Paperback, eBook, and Audiobook
She Reads Book Club: I am pleased to announce that Literate Housewife has officially joined the She Reads Blog Network. Each month, I will be featuring the She Reads selection on the first Monday of the month. Blackberry Winter is the October selection of the She Reads Book Club.
Vera Ray is having a difficult time making ends meet. It’s 1933 and she is a single mother of a three-year-old son named Daniel. She works the night shift as a maid at a posh Seattle hotel. Without the money to even meet her rent, she is forced to leave Daniel in her apartment while she goes to work against her better judgement. On the day of a freak May blizzard, she heads home hoping to warm her heart by hugging her son. When she enters the apartment, he is gone. In 2010, Claire Aldridge is a reporter for the Seattle Herald. She, too, is having a rough time. A year ago, she suffered a still birth after being hit by a car while taking a run. Her career and her marriage have lost their traction. She can barely make it out of bed the morning of the May blizzard. When her boss calls her and asks her to write a story tying together the two May blizzards, or blackberry winter snows, she isn’t very enthusiastic until she finds out about Daniel.
Vera Ray is one of the most heartbreaking characters I’ve read. She is a noble person and it hurt me to see her go through the pain and desperation of losing a beloved child. I wanted to take to the streets myself and help her find Daniel. It seemed as if everyone let her down, from her landlord to the local police. I understood her guilt and her need to grasp at any straw she could find. The injustice and the lack of compassion infuriated me. You can’t help but appreciate and empathize with single mothers while reading Vera’s story.
Claire was also a sympathetic character. She was struggling to overcome the loss of her child in the last trimester of her pregnancy. Like Vera, she holds a great deal of guilt inside because of choices that she made. Unlike Vera, she has a partner to help shoulder the burden. The problem, however, is that the accident knocked Claire and her husband out of sync. They didn’t communicate and nursed their wounds alone. As they grow apart, the blame grows. I wanted to take Claire by the shoulders and shake her a little because she is a lot like me. It’s funny how your own weaknesses displayed in others can be so frustrating. After all, you know the answers aren’t so easy to come by as they are when looking in from the outside. I was grateful that she found this story and I cheered her on as she pursued the answers to Daniel’s disappearance. While it wasn’t certain that Vera’s story was going to end well, I held out hope for Claire.
I first read Sarah Jio this summer during my vacation. The Violets of March made for a perfect beach read, leaving me looking forward to my next read. When Blackberry Winter arrived in my mailbox and I then discovered it was the October selection for the She Reads Book Club, I was thrilled. I was right to be excited. Blackberry Winter is an infectious and heartwarming read. I may have berated myself for waiting so long to read Sarah Jio’s work, but I was glad to have so recently read The Violets of March. I was in the perfect place to read Blackberry Winter. I devoured this book and, as the mystery drew to a close, I could not put the book down. This book was compelling and emotional and I shed satisfying tears as it ended. Go and pick up a copy of this book. I couldn’t recommend it more.