Review: Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio
Author: Sarah Jio
Title: Blackberry Winter
Release: September 25, 2012
Purchase: | Book Depository
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…
After actually finding myself in a reading slump where I haven’t been able to finish a book in a few weeks I was thrilled to receive the ARC of Sarah Jio’s Blackberry Winter . I couldn’t put it down! I first discovered Sarah with her novel The Violet’s of March and devoured it. I also reviewed her next book The Bungalow as well so I am familiar with her writing style by now and couldn’t wait to read her latest novel.
True to the pattern of her last two books Jio superbly weaves a tale between past and present that has you on the edge of your seat awaiting the conclusion of both stories. In the wake of a devastating accident Claire is struggling through her depression and watching her marriage slip away from her. She has lost her enthusiasm for life when this mysterious snow falls. As a reporter she is assigned to find a story between this late snow fall and the one back in 1933. Rather annoyed and unenthused Claire begins to research for an angle to tie in the two storms into a cover story for the paper.
While conducting her research she finds more than she bargained for when she discovers the story of a little boy who went missing and was never found the night of the 1933 snow storm. Claire is drawn to the story and determined to find out what happened to the missing boy. The story tugs at her draws her in as she imagines the pain the mother felt over her loss and suddenly as her investigation unfolds she finds herself alive again and enthralled by her work. Never guessing exactly how much the story of this little boy will affect her life.
We are taken back and forth between Vera Ray from 1933 and Claire in the present. We walk along the heartbreak that Vera feels when her son is taken from her and the difficult life that a single mother had back during the depression era when money and food were scarce. Jio expertly sucked me in to the characters of both women. I found myself rooting for both of them and wanting things to end well.
With what seems to me to be a pattern in Jio’s writing once again as the story unfolds we come to the realization of how much a simple miscommunication can affect our lives and those around us. This seems to be a theme that Jio consistently brings out in her books. As we race towards the ending with all the pieces falling into place I found myself so touched by both Claire and Vera. I could feel their frustration, their love, their joy and their sadness. When all the pieces of the puzzle are finally placed I was so touched and moved I found myself crying of happiness as old family secrets were brought to light and long sought answers were discovered.
Those of you who read The Violet’s of March will also love the cameo appearance of your favorite characters from Jio’s first book. It was great to catch up with them and see how they are doing.
Thank you Sarah for once again writing a book that I couldn’t put down from the moment I picked it up until the last page was read. I highly recommend this book; it is perfect for a cold winter day. Snuggle up with a blanket, grab some coffee or hot chocolate and discover the joy of reading Blackberry Winter for yourself.