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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Blackberry Winter...Review

About the book:
In 2011, Sarah Jio burst onto the fiction scene with two sensational novels--The Violets of March and The Bungalow. With Blackberry Winter--taking its title from a late-season, cold-weather phenomenon--Jio continues her rich exploration of the ways personal connections can transcend the boundaries of time.

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...

Every parent's greatest fear is something happening to their child. Nearly destitute but determined to provide for her young son Daniel, Vera leaves the child sleeping during a May snow storm and goes to work at a ritzy hotel. Returning home the next morning, she finds her son vanished, with no trace.  Receiving no help from the police, she's determined to find him on her own.  77 years while writing a story about a similar storm, Claire discovers Vera's story and is determined to find out what happened to Daniel.

Alternating chapters tell each woman's story as Vera flashes back to when she met Daniel's high society father.  Vera's story is heartbreaking as she is simply a victim of circumstance. Orphaned as a teenager, she must work for pennies a day.  Caught in a whirlwind romance with a man she truly loves, her world comes crashing down when his sister interferes between them.  Left to raise Daniel on her own, Vera puts forth a mighty effort despite an abusive landlord and grumpy supervisor.

Claire, having gone through her own devastating loss, is struggling to find her way back to life and her marriage.  As she pursues Vera's story and as puzzle pieces fall into place, Claire realizes that her connection to Vera is more than simply emotions.

Most of the story is heartbreaking, but it's not a sad novel.  It ends well and as Claire's story runs parallel to Vera's 77 years later, we see one woman regain what the other lost.

I enjoyed Sarah's novel The Violets of March and it wasn't until Emily and Jack briefly reappeared in Blackberry Winter that I realized the two stories were lightly connected.

Thanks to the Penguin Group for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Sarah Jio here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 12/12

* * * *
4/5 Stars



  1. The story sounds heart-wrenching! I'm glad to hear it ends well. I'm planning to read it next month.

  2. I have read reviews of both books and would love to read them. Very nice review.

  3. I had no idea the two books were connected! Glad you enjoyed it. It's on my radar.

  4. Thanks for the review. I think this is one I'd like to read.

  5. This sounds like an emotional read, I hope it ended well. I'll keep an eye out for these, they sound good.

  6. This one sounds . . . a little "done", I guess, plot-wise. But, I'm curious about Sarah Jio's books, which I've never read. I'll have to give her a shot, some time. Great review!

  7. Sounds like an interesting book. Great review!

  8. This sounds riveting - and like a good book to pick in the future for my book club (comprised of all mothers).

    Great review!