Blackberry Winter

Written by Sarah Jio
Review by Susan Zabolotny

“Blackberry winter” is a term used by farmers to describe the cold snap in spring that’s needed to set the blooms on blackberry bushes. This story takes place at such a time in 1933 and 2010 in Seattle, Washington. There is a snowstorm in May 1933 when single mother Vera Ray leaves for work and returns the next morning to find that her 3-year-old son, Daniel, has gone missing. The story shifts to May 2010, when another snowstorm has blanketed Seattle, and journalist Claire Aldridge is asked by her editor to do a feature article about the snow for the newspaper. She feels that an article about snow in 2010 would be boring to readers, but when she begins to research the snow of 1933 and the unresolved abduction of little Daniel, her reporting instincts take over and she has found her story.

Recovering from the loss of her own child and struggling to keep her marriage afloat, Claire is angry and puzzled when the story is cancelled, but she refuses to accept this decision and searches to find out what happened to Daniel, Vera Ray, and Daniel’s father.

Some of the characters are better than they appear in the beginning and one is just what she seems, but they are all memorable, especially Vera, who faces adversity with strength and determination. The author does a good job of moving the story between the present and the past and tying it all together in the end. I recommend this book to readers looking for a light, nicely paced mystery.