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Summary from Goodreads.com:

Book cover image courtesy of Goodreads.com

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…

My review/thoughts about Blackberry Winter:

This year my sorority, Pi Beta Phi, started an online book club to connect alum and active members as well as to continue to promote our most important value, literacy. I believe that for me the greatest part about this book club, besides connecting with others, is the opportunity to explore books that I otherwise would not.

Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio is the first novel to kick off the year of reading for the Pi Phi book club. Even after reading the blurb, I still wasn’t convinced that this novel was for me. I kept putting off reading this book for the month because I was afraid to start the novel and find that I didn’t like it. I made excuses for myself, such as “I have to finish reading The Book of Fate first, my Nook isn’t working so I don’t want to purchase the eBook yet.”

But I did finish my other book and my Nook was unfrozen. So there I sat this past weekend realizing that I had made a commitment to this book club and I was not going to put it off any longer. I settled in Saturday night, after another late basketball game, with my Nook and my dog Pugsley at my feet to read the first few chapters.

The book starts off introducing the reader to Vera Ray in 1933. We become acquainted with what we later learn are only some of Vera’s struggles. Vera’s world gets turned upside down after spending an evening at work. As Vera leaves the hotel for which she works, she walks into a world of white…a world that has experienced a freak snowstorm in May. As she rushes home to check on her son, she finds that Daniel has gone missing and her only clue is his teddy bear lying in the snow.

Decades later, Claire experiences the same storm that Vera did. The same date, the same location, the same storm will tie these two women together. Claire, a reporter, begins her research about the twin storms. It is at this point that Claire finds Vera’s story. The loss of Daniel resonates so strongly with Claire that she knows that she will finish the story no matter what.

As the readers continue with Blackberry Winter, they can’t help but be drawn into the parallels that the two women face. Their struggle to be loved, for self-acceptance and understanding the loss that life brings resonate strongly through each page. Jio creates a world that shows struggle, but also the beauty that can come from struggle. Jio also shows the reader the depth of love, but without being too “mushy.”

This is such a great novel that I could keep writing more on it, but I want everyone to read this so I will refrain from giving anything away. But to give you an idea of how much I was pulled into the lives of the characters, I started the novel on Saturday and finished it Sunday night. This is a book that will speak to those who are fascinated by history, those who love seeing the strength of relationships, as well as those who enjoy a great mystery.

I am not usually one to encourage others to read a specific book, but this one is a must. Please visit Sarah Jio’s author website. I know I am looking forward to exploring her other novels.

Me and my book buddy, Pugsley

Me and my book buddy, Pugsley

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