Review: Blackberry Winter

Blackberry Winter

Blackberry Winter
By Sarah Jio
(Plume, Paperback, 9780452298385, September 2012, 320pp.)

The Short of It:

Short, sweet story with a little bit of mystery thrown in.

The Rest of It:

Claire Aldridge has suffered a terrible loss and although a year has passed, she is struggling to accept what cannot be changed, and in the process, realizes that her marriage to Ethan might very well be over. As she delves into her work as a newspaper reporter, mostly to numb herself against the pain, she stumbles across a story from the 1930′s. A story about  a young mother by the name of Vera Ray, and her missing three-year-old son, Daniel who disappeared during a blackberry winter. Suspicious over why he was never found, Claire digs deeper, hoping for a story but also curious over what really happened to the little boy. While searching clues, she comes across some similarities to her own life that she finds impossible to ignore.

Out of the three Jio books I’ve read thus far, this was probably the most predictable story of the three. It was too sweet for me in places and the dialogue seemed a tad artificial, but after just a few chapters I was reeled in. Jio’s ability to take a reader back and forth through time is effortless. So much so, that you tend to overlook the fact that there are far too many coincidences in the story to be plausible.

As for the characters, Claire drove me batty. Her insecurities get the best of her and seeing her vacillate between devoted wife and “not so devoted wife” became tiring after a while. I wanted to know more about Ethan, her husband and the mysterious Vera Ray. Whenever a story is interwoven with a story from the past, I am almost always more interested in the story from the past. That was the case here.

Jio’s knack for creating stories that transcend time is what makes her so popular with her readers. However, with this being the third book following the same format, I’d like to see her go in a different direction for her next book. I keep coming back because no matter how “pat” an ending may seem or how many coincidences there may be, I still find myself getting swept up in the story, and you can’t say that with too many books these days.

Overall, a quick read to lose yourself in while the kids run amok around you.

Source: Sent to me by the publisher via Edelweiss.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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28 Responses

  1. Wow, everyone is reviewing this! I have to say, no matter about the content – I love the cover! :–)

  2. This is the first review I’ve seen of this today, but I know others have reviewed it today and earlier. Seems like everyone likes her books, even if they may be predictable.

  3. I haven’t tried any of her work yet, so having this follow the same formula won’t bother me a bit.

  4. I have been very curious about this book but I hate predictability. I still may give it a try though.

    • Have you read her other books? She is an excellent storyteller but her novels follow a similar pattern. After three of them, I find myself wanting a bit more from her as a writer, because I know she is such an excellent storyteller. But, her books are very popular so I can see why she’d want to go down the same path each time, too.

  5. Yes – everything you said is true! Claire made me insane — I wanted to shake her — but I’m always worried if I’m too critical I’m come off like a crank. The dialogue got to me after a bit — too inspirational — and I could have gotten really critical of the historical sections — I don’t think Vera’s awareness of class was accurate — but that’s me nitpicking. I was caught up ultimately.

    • Vera’s story was more interesting but lacked depth. And the guy with the cafe? He seemed interesting, but he was really only there to bridge the location gap. But,(huge but) I still got sucked in. I knew what was going to happen and how it would all end, but I still wanted to read it for myself. Funny, huh? I was hoping for some incestuous twist. Haha!

      • I definitely found Claire’s whole situation to be thin — I understand her tragedy yet, I don’t know, it made me just want to slap her rather than hug her. Perhaps because she had that thing I hate — everyone loves her but the character we see has the personality of wet newspaper — and yet — as you say — I got sucked it. I have to give her props for that — and I’m with you on wanting a more sordid twist!

        • What bugged me about Claire the most was how she kept thinking the marriage was over… then how by the next page she was convinced it wasn’t even though nothing had happened to change it. If she were a friend of mine, she would be the drama queen. She requires “handling” to keep her from self destructing. So much work!

  6. I am supposed to be receiving this book soon…it will be the first book of hers that I’ve read. Even though I’ve wanted to read the others, well, you know how that goes. I have kids running amuck so this should be perfect for me.

    • I think you’ll like it. My fave out of the three so far was Violets of March but the setting of that one won me over.

  7. I have only seen this book around for the last couple of days, and while it does seem like something that I would enjoy, I think the predictability factor might kill this one for me. I do think that the story line set in the past sounded a bit more interesting, but then, that’s always the case with me!

    • Me too, Heather. Me too. What I like about Jio’s books is that there does seem to be a lot of her in them. I like her. She is really friendly and supportive of bloggers and a mom to THREE small children so her motherly qualities do come out in her books. As a mom, I can relate that aspect.

  8. Even though I’ve been intrigued by Jio’s two earlier books (probably by your reviews!), I haven’t gotten around to reading them. The premise of this one sounds good to me too, but I often bristle at sweet. I do want to read this author, but maybe I’ll start with her first one.

  9. Yeah…we both sorta liked it!

  10. I suspect she will probably keep her format if it is working for her.

  11. Hmmm this sounds pretty good, but it doesn’t seem like your kind of book for some reason?? I do have the eGalley as well so I’ll be curious now.

  12. I love the idea of being swept away and have loved her other books. I know that this is one that I will enjoy!!

  13. I haven’t read any of her books, partly because I’m afraid I’ll find it too light or sweet, but I love the covers and the ideas of all of them, Lol. I’ll keep her in mind for when I’m in the mood for this type of book for sure.

  14. You’re reactions to this one mirror mine to her last one. Sometimes being “good” is good enough. But it does seem like Jio might be capable of much more.

  15. This was my first Jio book, but I agree that it was predictable. I definitely agree with you that Claire drove me insane. She is definitely not winning any best wife awards any time soon. I will have to check out her first novel, as I hear that it is the best.

  16. [...] Roth 51. The Dog Stars by Peter Heller 52. The Longest Way Home by Andrew McCarthy 53. Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio 54. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis 55. IT (audio) by Stephen King 56. The [...]

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