I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio
Published by Plume on September 25th 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Historical Fiction, Mystery
Also by this author: The Violets of March, The Bungalow, The Last Camellia
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...
May 1, 1933…
Vera Ray works the nightshift as a maid at a hotel in Seattle. A snow storm has blown in during the night; strange with how late in the year it is. When she kisses her three year old son Daniel goodbye she doesn’t know that when she returns he won’t be there waiting for her.
‘Two snowstorms, sharing one calendar date, separated by nearly a century…’
May 2, 2010…
Claire wakes to find snow is falling in Seattle. Snow this late in the year is known as a Blackberry Winter and it rarely happens, but this happened once before many, many years ago.
Vera’s story was one of immense sorrow: the loss of her only child. The obvious pain she suffers as a result was vivid and heartbreaking. The story switches back and forth between past and present but I was most intrigued by this back story, the mystery surrounding it, and how we’re slowly given bits and pieces of the puzzle. The mystery itself may have been a bit coincidental at times but didn’t end up diminishing my overall (positive) opinion. Claire is also living her own heartbreak as her relationship with her husband is crumbling and she doesn’t have any idea where to start to fix it. It was hard accepting Claire’s reluctance to work at her relationship at first until you find out the bigger picture regarding why their relationship started to crumble in the first place.
A definite page-turner and one that I enjoyed immensely. Blackberry Winter is a heartwarming story that at first glance appears to be hidden under a mountain of sadness with no hope in sight. As the story continues, the two stories slowly start coming together, questions become answered, and realization dawns at the immensity of what occurred so many years ago.