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My Progress:

11 / 30 books. 37% done!

2024 Literary Escapes Challenge

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My Progress:

23 / 51 states. 45% done!

2024 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

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16 / 50 books. 32% done!

2024 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

21 / 50 books. 42% done!

Booklist Queen's 2024 Reading Challenge

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43 / 50 books. 86% done!

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25 / 40 books. 63% done!

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9 / 25 books. 36% done!

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6 / 26.2 miles (second lap). 23% done!

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22 / 100 books. 22% done!

2024 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

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58 / 104 books. 56% done!

Around the Year in 52 Books Reading Challenge

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42 / 52 books. 81% done!

Disney Animated Movies Reading Challenge

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60 / 165 books. 36% done!
Friday, June 12, 2020

Tender and Empowering, The Bitter and Sweet of Cherry Season Makes Me Smile

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Fear of a vengeful abusive boyfriend sends Hope Wright scuttling to get to the only place she has left to go—The Orchard House.  Her mother never had anything good to say about her ancestral home, but Hope is praying she and her traumatized 10-year-old daughter, Tink, can find refuge there.  At least for a night or two until she can find them a better hiding place.  She only hopes her estranged aunt Peg, caretaker of the house and surrounding orchards, will be receptive to unexpected visitors.

Although Peg initially meets her surprise guests with the business end of a shotgun, she softens when she realizes just who is quivering on her doorstep.  It's obvious Hope doesn't remember being at The Orchard House, doesn't remember Peg or any of what happened there.  Vowing to leave the past where it belongs, Peg guards her secrets while doing her best to care for the skittish mother and daughter.

With cherry season in full swing, it's not long before the Wright women are laboring side-by-side, forming a tight bond.  Even as Hope and Tink find healing in the comfort of family, newly-formed friendships, and the satisfaction of working the land, the threat of Hope's murderous ex looms.  Tink's dug up some intriguing clues to the past in Peg's off-limits bedroom and Peg is wracked with guilt over the secrets she's keeping.  What will happen when things come to a head, exposing the truth about the past?  Can Peg keep Hope safe, not just from a physical threat but also from the emotional bomb that's about to go off?  Or will Hope and Peg both end up losing everything that's most important to them?

You all know by now what a sucker I am for homecoming stories.  If they feature juicy secrets, all the better!  Not surprisingly, then, I was drawn to the premise of The Bitter and Sweet of Cherry Season by Molly Fader.  It stars a sympathetic trio of females, who are all wounded but fierce in their own ways.  Rooting for them is a no-brainer.  Plotwise, the novel moves along at a steady pace.  It's obvious from the get-go what's going to happen in the story, all the way down to the role of the surprise item Tink finds in Peg's hidden box, but the tale is still compelling—even if there weren't any plot "twists" I didn't see coming.  On the whole, then, I very much enjoyed The Bitter and Sweet of Cherry Season.  It's a tender story about family, forgiveness, love, and the power of coming home.  Although it deals with some difficult themes, overall it's an uplifting, empowering novel that made me smile.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of other homecoming novels, although no specific titles are coming to mind.  You?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (1 F-bomb, plus milder expletives), violence, disturbing subject matter, and depictions of illegal drug use

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-ARC of The Bitter and Sweet of Cherry Season from the generous folks at HarperCollins.  Thank you!
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