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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Blackberry Winter, by Sarah Jio ($15)

There is a death. It probably was murder. But mostly it is a simple romance.

In May, 1933, a sudden snowstorm blanketed the city of Seattle. During that snowstorm, 3-year-old Daniel disappeared from the apartment he shared with his mother, Vera. They were a half step from starvation in a time when very few people had much. Vera was working as a maid in a hotel and had to leave him asleep at home, alone. When she returned after work, Daniel was gone.

In the present time, Claire Aldridge is a reporter for a paper owned by her husband's family. It is May and there is an unexpected snowstorm. Someone somewhere nicknamed this sort of late storm a "blackberry winter." Claire and her husband had lost their baby a year before when a pregnant Claire was hit by a car. Since then, she has lacked enthusiasm, direction, purpose. Her marriage is faltering.

Claire's editor gives her the assignment of finding a human interest story to tie the two blackberry winters together. That is when Claire discovers Vera and Daniel's story. Suddenly some of Claire's focus returns as she begins to track down what happened to Vera and Daniel.

The book goes back and forth between the two stories. It is easy to guess that somewhere along the line the stories will cross. It is easy to assume that Claire will find out what happened. This is a sweet, undemanding tale. Vera has to do something morally repugnant to get help in finding Daniel, but other than that, it's like a fairy tale.

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