(From Goodreads) 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…
What I thought:
This book alternates between two stories that take place some eighty years apart in Seattle, Washington. Vera is a single mother, struggling to make ends meet in 1933; Claire is a young married journalist living in modern day Seattle. Claire wakes up on May 1st to a layer of snow covering the city a phenomenon known as a “Blackberry Winter.” In fact, the last Blackberry Winter to come to Seattle had been on May 1, 1933, when Vera came home from her overnight job at a hotel to find her three year old son missing from their apartment.
Sarah Jio does a wonderful job of telling these women’s stories. My heart was broken for Vera and her tragedy. As a mother myself, I couldn’t even begin to imagine her pain. Like Claire, I wanted to learn what had happened to little Daniel the night of the May Snow. However Claire had struggles and heartaches of her own.
“Blackberry Winter” has a little bit of everything. A little mystery. A little historical fiction. A little suspense. A little romance. I read this one in two sittings with a box of tissues close at hand. I am looking forward to reading more by Sarah Jio.