Books,  Reviews

The Berry Pickers

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A four-year-old Mi’kmaq girl goes missing from the blueberry fields of Maine, sparking a tragic mystery that haunts the survivors, unravels a community, and remains unsolved for nearly fifty years.

July 1962. A Mi’kmaq family from Nova Scotia arrives in Maine to pick blueberries for the summer. Weeks later, four-year-old Ruthie, the family’s youngest child, vanishes. She is last seen by her six-year-old brother, Joe, sitting on a favorite rock at the edge of a berry field. Joe will remain distraught by his sister’s disappearance for years to come.

In Maine, a young girl named Norma grows up as the only child of an affluent family. Her father is emotionally distant, her mother frustratingly overprotective. Norma is often troubled by recurring dreams and visions that seem more like memories than imagination. As she grows older, Norma slowly comes to realize there is something her parents aren’t telling her. Unwilling to abandon her intuition, she will spend decades trying to uncover this family secret.

For readers of The Vanishing Half and Woman of Light, this show-stopping debut by a vibrant new voice in fiction is a riveting novel about the search for truth, the shadow of trauma, and the persistence of love across time.

Synopsis source: Goodreads

What pattern is that?
Pictured with the book in this post is the Cozy Fireside Wrap (pocket scarf), available for free here on the blog!


Genre(s): Historical Fiction, BIPOC
HB&W Rating: 5
View on Goodreads
Buy on Amazon, Barnes & Noble

What an amazing debut! This story was heartbreaking but portrayed the experiences of indigenous peoples in colonial North America so well, it’s obvious that Ms. Peters did her research. This is the perfect example of what makes historical fiction such a wonderful genre, spinning stories that bring history to life and allow the reader to gain perspectives that have been missing from the history books.

Told from both Joe and Norma’s perspectives (the dual narrators of the audiobook were amazing!), we are shown how one act of desperation can have a large and lasting impact on many people for the rest of their lives. What strikes me the most about this story is the way the author addressed familial relationships, mental health, and addiction. These themes were handled so well and with such care with nuggets of wisdom sprinkled throughout that anyone can learn from. Even as heart-wrenching and heavy as the story is, there’s a pervading sense of hope and, overall, love.

I found it strange that no word exists for a parent who loses a child. If children lose their parents, they are orphans. If a husband loses his wife, he’s a widower. But there’s no word for a parent who loses a child. I’ve come to believe that the event is just too big, too monstrous, too overwhelming for words. No word could ever describe the feeling, so we leave it unsaid.

This is a tear-jerker for sure, but it evokes contemplation and discussion, and dare I say, it necessitates it. These are the stories we NEED to talk about, to understand. We need stories like this one to widen our narrow view of the world and expand our perspectives beyond the confines of what we’ve always been told.

If you enjoy beautifully crafted stories about the human experience, particularly humans of different colors than you, I highly recommend that you add this to your TBR.

Until next time,

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