Blackberry Winter- Sarah Jio

Blackberry Winter tells the parallel stories of two women who experience May 2 snowstorms in Seattle.  The first, Vera Ray, lives in 1933.  Her young son, Daniel, disappears while she is at work the night of the storm.  The second, Claire, is a reporter living in the present day, assigned to do a story about the two May snowstorms.  Claire finds Vera’s story while researching the last blackberry winter and, feeling a special connection to Vera and her loss, sets out to discover what happened that fateful night in 1933.

The story is told in alternating chapters between the two women’s stories.  I thought Vera’s story was a little boring, to be perfectly honest.  It focuses a lot on the love story between Vera and Daniel’s father, Charles, which is your typical rich boy-poor girl story.  And I just didn’t care that there were obstacles preventing them from being together that put Vera in her desperately poor single mother position.  To be perfectly honest, the romance was so poorly done that I kept waiting for the next shoe to drop… like I really thought Charles was just using Vera for sex and that he was going to screw her over somehow that related to the disappearance of Daniel.  Just so you know, that was clearly not the author’s intention by the end of the book… I think I was supposed to buy that they were star-crossed lovers.

Claire’s story was a little more interesting, though her big issue/secret was pretty predictable after her reaction to Vera’s loss of her son.  Claire and her husband are on the brink of divorce and neither is able to just break through the tension and silence between them to communicate how they feel or to show that they still care about one another.  This storyline was a little easier to connect with and I looked forward to reading Claire’s chapters.  But I think the author was more in love with Vera’s story than Claire’s, so it felt like there was much more time spent on Vera, both in her chapters and in Claire’s.

I read this book when I was sick and I think that is probably the only reason I made it through the whole book.  It wasn’t too difficult to concentrate on this book, it didn’t get me so heavily invested that I couldn’t put it down for a nap, but the mystery of the plot was enough to keep me curious.  I just had a really hard time connecting to the book and I think (though I’m not positive) that perhaps this was more of a tell than show sort of book.  I just left the book wondering how something that felt nicely written and had an interesting plot could feel so bland.  I was also left wondering how a story about losing a child didn’t tug at my heartstrings.  I’m pregnant, that sort of thing should have me in tears!  So… something was off with the writing, but I couldn’t really put my finger on it when reading.

Overall, this ends up a solid meh for me.  Not bad, not good.  Something I won’t remember I read a month from now, but something that worked pretty well for a couple days stuck home in bed.