Published by Plume on September 1, 2012
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery
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In 2011, Sarah Jio burst onto the fiction scene with two sensational novels--"The Violets of March" and "The Bungalow." With "Blackberry Winter"--taking its title from a late-season, cold-weather phenomenon--Jio continues her rich exploration of the ways personal connections can transcend the boundaries of time.
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...
This story intricately weaves the events surrounding the disappearance of a 3-year old boy (Daniel Ray) in 1933 with a journalist’s (Claire Aldridge) search for answers in present day. There’s a somewhat mystical element in how seemingly unrelated situations converge to help unravel the mystery. The transitions were done skillfully, using Claire’s journey as a means for her to confront and face her own paralyzing grief.
I really enjoyed how the story was presented as much as the actual tale. The realities of the divide between the wealthy and poor during the Depression era was realistic and enlightening. It’s an interesting story with other very strong themes that give it weight.