warning: spoilers ahead
Blackberry Winter: A Novel by Sarah Jio is a duel narrative story about Claire Aldridge, a reporter who is researching a late-season snowstorm that occurs in Seattle, and the similar occurrence that happened eighty years ago in 1922, when a little boy went missing. When Claire learns more about the disappearance of Daniel Ray, she can’t help but feel obligated to follow up on what happened to him and where he ended up.
Meanwhile in 1933, Daniel Ray’s story unfolds, along with his mother’s, Vera Ray. Vera is a poor woman living on poverty and struggling to survive. She catches the attention of one of the wealthiest men in the city, but worries that love is not enough to keep them together. They are from two completely different worlds and she believes that things would never work out between them.
This book has all the elements that we have come to know Sarah Jio for: the dueling narrative, the missing women, and the lost artifacts/papers that are discovered years later and offer clues to the mystery. I couldn’t help but notice it was also the second story of hers that involved the attempted-drowning of a woman. I’m not sure that there is any deeper meaning in that other than almost all of her stories are set in Seattle which contains lots of large bodies of water.
Overall I enjoyed this book more so than some of Sarah Jio’s previous books. It kicked off with a bang in chapter one when Daniel went missing, and I felt compelled to read until the end to find out what happened to him. The ending was somewhat predictable, but that doesn’t make it any less of a good ending.
I was surprised that Claire decided to get back together with Ethan. Although I wasn’t expecting her to start a relationship with Dominic, I just couldn’t see her returning to Ethan either after the way he treated her. However, I can see the two of them needing to reconcile in order to heal their wounds, and they definitely had unfinished business that wouldn’t just magically disappear if they were to break up.
I will say that I don’t think this book was deserving of the many negative and mixed reviews it received on Goodreads, so don’t let that deter you by any means if you plan on reading it! It was good both as a standalone and for anyone who has been reading her books over the years and is familiar with this style of storytelling.