I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Lemon Orchard by Luanne Rice
Published by Penguin, Viking Adult on July 2, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance
In the five years since Julia last visited her aunt and uncle’s home in Malibu, her life has been turned upside down by her daughter’s death. She expects to find nothing more than peace and solitude as she house-sits with only her dog, Bonnie, for company. But she finds herself drawn to the handsome man who oversees the lemon orchard. Roberto expertly tends the trees, using the money to support his extended Mexican family. What connection could these two people share? The answer comes as Roberto reveals the heartbreaking story of his own loss—a pain Julia knows all too well, but for one striking difference: Roberto’s daughter was lost but never found. And despite the odds he cannot bear to give up hope. Set in the sea and citrus-scented air of the breathtaking Santa Monica Mountains, The Lemon Orchard is an affirming story about the redemptive power of compassion and the kind of love that seems to find us when we need it most.
It’s been five years since Julia Hughes lost her only child, Jenny, in a car accident. Her husband died in the same crash but Julia’s grief is solely for her daughter. She leaves her solitary life in New England to house sit for her aunt and uncle in their Malibu estate, accompanied by her dog Bonnie. While there, she finds a heartbreaking connection to the Mexican orchard manager, Roberto Rodriguez, whose daughter was lost and never found ten years ago.
Roberto’s tragic story seems to breathe life into dormant Julia. His is a haunting tale that not only chronicles how his daughter, Rosa, was lost but the harrowing and human experience of Mexican men, women and children who attempt to cross the borders into America for the sole purpose of searching for a better life. Julia, an anthropologist, becomes almost obsessed with trying to determine what happened to Rosa, almost as if by doing so she’s again reunited with her own child. The romance that develops between Julia and Roberto is touching as it seems to be the balm that both need to heal.
I’m still haunted by this story, maybe because the ending may have left too much to my imagination. It’s a beautifully written story with gut-wrenching honesty in the portrayal of the immigration journey, Julia and Roberto’s grief and their romance. I still hold out hope for a sequel but if not, the writer accomplished her goal in reaching me emotionally and compassionately. It’s my first Rice novel and it will not be my last.