Friday, October 5, 2012

Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio

5 Star

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...

Lydia - 5 Star

Sarah Jio has become one of my favourite authors since the release of her first novel, The Violets of March, and if she ever stops producing such wonderful novels, I will most assuredly break down and weep. A perfect combination of mystery, intrigue, complex characters, a present day story that untangles mysteries of the past, and effortless to read, Blackberry Winter is another fabulous novel by an incredibly gifted writer.

Blackberry Winter jumps back and forth from the present to the past with ease and never once did I become confused or irritated with this format, which is typical with Sarah Jio’s writing, so maybe I expected it. But I suspect it’s just because she’s a master of the transition between eras. I always want to know just as much about the historical characters and their stories as the present day ones and it's fabulous how she immerses us deep into both worlds.

I love that Jio writes about older generations and how she depicts them with such compassion, grace and dignity. Having always had an affinity for listening to my grandparent’s stories since I was a young child, I love the different perspective Jio always manages to give me. I end up considering my own past generations in a new light as I read her novels and from an adult perspective instead of as a child or young adult, too young and na├»ve to see them as anything other than who they were, without a past with the depth I now know they have. It is definitely inspiring to aspire to such heights with my own writing and I only hope I can depict the older generations as Sarah does.  Speaking of writing, I know when I’m reading a fabulous book when I stop and take note of words, sentences, transitions, character development and plot…. I could go on and on as I read Blackberry Winter with my writers eyes wide open.

Jio’s stories are always so intriguing that I flip pages long into nights to try and unravel the mysterious circumstances within and Blackberry Winter was no exception. The characters are root worthy and the story kept me guessing. I was so blissfully happy with the ending that I bawled on the subway home from work. Every one of these makes this novel a brilliant read for me.

Oh, just go out and buy one of her novels. You won’t be disappointed.  Promise.

Thank you to Plume for our review copy. All opinions are our own.

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