Audiobook Review: BLACKBERRY WINTER by Sarah Jio

Format: Audio; 9 CDs
Narrator: Tara Sands
Publisher: Plume Books/Brilliance Audio
Released: September 25, 2012
Source: Borrowed from the Library

Seattle, 1933. Vera Ray kisses her three-year-old son, Daniel, good night and reluctantly leaves for work. She hates the night shift, but it’s the only way she can earn enough to keep destitution at bay. In the morning ? even though it’s the second of May ? a heavy snow is falling. Vera rushes to wake Daniel, but his bed is empty. His teddy bear lies outside in the snow.

Seattle, present day. On the second of May, Seattle Herald reporter Claire Aldridge awakens to another late-season snowstorm. Assigned to cover this ?blackberry winter? and its predecessor decades earlier, Claire learns of Daniel’s unsolved abduction and vows to unearth the truth ? only to discover that she and Vera are linked in unexpected ways.


[For some reason, this review didn’t get transferred over from my old blog, so I’m posting it now. =)]

I know I’m about to read an emotional story when the book’s dedication makes me cry. BLACKBERRY WINTER was both heartbreaking and uplifting, so have a box of tissues handy when you read it!

A blackberry winter is an old-fashioned term used to describe a late spring snowfall, which is what happens at the beginning of this book. Reporter Claire Aldridge awakens on May 2nd to find Seattle covered under a blanket of snow. At work, she is assigned to do a story on the storm, and an identical one that happened on the same day 77 years prior. While researching the story, she discovers the unsolved case of a missing boy. Three-year old Daniel Ray was abducted during the snowstorm in 1933 while his mother Vera was at work.

After being in a terrible accident a year ago, Claire has become a shell of her former self. Her marriage is crumbling, and in spite of counseling, she can not let go of the pain. Claire becomes engrossed in the mystery surrounding Daniel’s disappearance, the first thing to spark her interest since that terrible day. As she digs deeper for clues to what happened to Daniel and Vera, some shocking secrets are revealed, ones that touch her on a personal level.

I enjoyed how the story alternated between Claire’s point of view in present day and Vera’s in the past. I could feel every emotion the women experienced, and I sobbed with them a few times.

BLACKBERRY WINTER may sound like a sorrowful tale, but it was so much more. It was about love and forgiveness. It was an eye-opening look at injustice in the 1930s. It was a puzzling mystery that kept me hooked from beginning to end. It was inspirational too. Solving the mystery of Daniel and Vera gave Claire the strength to save herself.

BLACKBERRY WINTER is a story that will haunt my thoughts for a long time. It makes me want to hug my kids and never let go. 5-stars!

My Thoughts on the Audio: This book was narrated by Tara Sands, and I am so happy I chose to listen to the audio version. I loved the emotion that Tara Sands added to the story. Even her male voices worked for me, mainly because she didn’t try to be overly “manly” with them. Beautifully done!

Rating: 5 Stars

Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, however I listened to the audio version I borrowed from the library.