Sunday, March 22, 2015

Book Review: Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio

Two Stories, One Present and One Past, Intertwined

Claire Aldridge is assigned to research a story about a spring blizzard (also known as a Blackberry Winter) that occurred in the 1930's after a similar storm hits Seattle in present time. For Claire, who has suffered a recent loss that has sent her reeling and impacted her both professionally and personally, this becomes an opportunity to focus on something with a passion she has not felt in a very long time when she learns about an unsolved mystery related to that storm.

So we begin learning about Vera Ray, a single woman in the depression era who struggles to feed and house herself as well as her three year old son. This includes leaving Daniel in her apartment alone while she works the midnight shift as a maid at a local hotel. She comes home one night, during the unseasonable storm, to discover Daniel missing, with his treasured teddy bear left behind in the alley, covered in snow.

Claire is determined to discover what happened to Daniel who was never located and finds that Vera did not receive much assistance in finding him despite her desperate pleas and the sacrifices she made to look for him. Being poor, no one really cared about her missing boy and assumptions were made about her as a single unwed mother. Additionally Claire soon learns that police corruption may also have been involved and there are attempts to thwart her coverage of the story.

Over time the present day story of Claire rediscovering her way in the world after tragedy collides with her research in vindicate Vera and discover what happened to Daniel. The story will hit closer to home than she could have thought.

This is a wonderfully written story and I felt that the characters were well developed. Claire is not always right in how she handles things, and that makes her story even more compelling as she seems "real" as she deals with her grief. The story of Vera was also very interesting as we learn about how she ended up where she was in life. I highly recommend this book.

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