Summary: The story, which takes its title from a late-season, cold-weather phenomenon, continues Jio’s rich exploration of the ways personal connections can transcend the boundaries of time. Seattle, 1932. 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 snowstorm has blanketed the city, and that her son has disappeared into the heart of the storm. Outside, she finds his teddy bear lying face down in the cold snowy streets. Seattle, 2010. Seattle Herald reporter Claire Aldridge is assigned to cover the May 1 “blackberry winter” storm and its predecessor that occurred on the same date nearly eighty years earlier. Learning of the unsolved abduction, Claire vows to unearth the truth—only to discover that she and Vera are linked in unexpected ways. ~sarahjio.com
Review: I adore Sarah Jio and her books amaze me. I saved Blackberry Winter for my business trip because I knew I would have the plane ride to concentrate on it. Needless to say I had about 80 pages left and finished them immediately upon getting into my room.
Ms. Jio has a way of immediately sucking you into the story. Vera and Claire are both likable and relatable characters. You want to know what happens to them and you want them to be happy.
We are quickly introduced to single mom Vera who shows us the struggles for her during the depression. She is forced to make decisions that compromise her son, Daniel's safety. You just know something awful is going to happen to Daniel while she is at work. Vera is a mother who will do anything to find her son even if it means compromising who she is. Through Vera's story we meet Claire who is assigned a features story about the winter storm that occurred on the same day 80 years earlier.
Claire herself is reeling from a traumatic event that she and her husband, Evan haven't dealt with in the year since it occurred. The story of Daniel pulls her in and it's the first thing she's been drawn to in over a year.
She immerses herself in the story of Daniel and vows to figure out what happened to the young boy. Was he taken from his mother? Is he still alive? It it through her research that we learn what happened to Vera and eventually Daniel.
The two stories are seamless in their links to each other. It is one of Ms. Jio's strengths; linking the past to the present. It was also nice to see a couple of characters from her first book, The Violets of March.
What I love about Ms. Jio's novels is that she immediately pulls you in and you don't want to leave. In Blackberry Winter she does an excellent job of seamlessly weaving the past and the present together. She also transports you to Seattle during the depression. She paints a very real and bleak picture of Vera's life. It isn't that the mystery was difficult to figure out, but it's the journey of the characters that you care about and want to learn more about.
I can't wait until her next book, The Last Camellia, is released. If you haven't read her books, then I highly suggest you run out and get them. You could devour them in one weekend!
Final Take: 5/5