Cover image for Blackberry winter : a novel
Blackberry winter : a novel
Publication Information:
New York : Plume, c2012.
Physical Description:
290, 16 p. ; 21 cm.
Geographic Term:
"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"--


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From the New York Times bestselling author of Always and The Violets of March comes an emotional story of a dreadful storm, a missing child cold case, and a determined reporter who just may have a stronger connection with the past than she realizes.

Seattle, 1933. Single mother Vera Ray kisses her three-year-old son goodnight and departs to work the night shift at a local hotel. She emerges to discover that a May Day snow has blanketed the city, and that her son has vanished. Outside, she finds his beloved teddy bear lying facedown on an icy street, the snow covering up any trace of his tracks--or the perpetrator's.

Seattle, 2010. Seattle Herald reporter Claire Aldridge, assigned to cover the May 1 "blackberry winter" storm and its twin, learns of the unsolved abduction and vows to unearth the truth. In the process, she finds that she and Vera may be linked in unexpected ways.

Sarah Jio burst onto the fiction scene with two sensational novels-- The Violets of March and The Bungalow . With Blackberry Winter-- taking its title from a late-season, cold-weather phenomenon--Jio continues her rich exploration of the ways personal connections can transcend the boundaries of time.

Author Notes

Sarah Jio is the #1 international, New York Times, and USA Today bestselling author of eight novels. She is also a longtime journalist who has contributed to Glamour, The New York Times, Redbook, Real Simple, O: The Oprah Magazine, Cooking Light, Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Self , and many other outlets, including NPR's Morning Edition, appearing as a commentator. Jio lives in Seattle with her three young boys.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Claire Aldridge is a reporter for the Seattle Herald coping with an emotionally detached husband and the grief of a recent miscarriage. When she awakes one May morning to find Seattle blanketed in snow, she begins to write a piece about the weather phenomenon known as a blackberry winter. Claire soon unearths the story of Vera Ray, a woman whose three-year-old son went missing in a similar snowstorm on the same day nearly 80 years before, in 1933. As Claire digs deeper, she discovers that she and Vera share ties to the wealthy Kensington family, who may be pulling strings and obfuscating Claire's research in an effort to stop her from uncovering the dark secrets that bind her to Vera. Jio's newest (after The Bungalow) is a fascinating exploration of love, loss, scandal, and redemption. While astute readers will likely surmise the nature of Claire and Vera's connection long before the big reveal, the proceedings are nevertheless engaging, with Claire and Vera enticing protagonists. Agent: Elisabeth Weed, Weed Literary. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

Jio's third book combines flashbacks with a contemporary romance and mystery set against a freak late-spring snowstorm in Seattle. Newspaper reporter Claire Aldridge's recovery from a personal setback has not gone well. She's struggling at work, and her marriage to the love of her life, Ethan, is crumbling. As the couple appears to be heading for a breakup, Claire is given an assignment to write a feature story about a sudden snowstorm that blankets Seattle in May 2010. The story's angle is to compare and contrast it to an identical storm that took place on the same day in 1933. While Claire works to find something interesting about the twin storms, she stumbles across the tale of a woman named Vera Ray, whose 3-year-old son, Daniel, disappeared during that 1933 storm. Vera, a decent and beautiful single mother, works at a ritzy hotel cleaning rooms, while trying to feed and clothe her little boy on pennies a day. Down to her last cent and unable to pay her rent, with no one to watch Daniel while she works, Vera leaves him alone in the apartment, but returns only to find him gone. The only clue to his disappearance is Daniel's beloved teddy bear, found in the snow outside her apartment building. Kicked out of her apartment, she reports him missing to police, who dismiss the child as a runaway. The parallel stories of Claire, whose husband's wealthy family owns the paper where they both work, and Vera, a down-on-her-luck beauty who stops at nothing while trying to find her child, are told in a compelling, but ultimately implausible method by former journalist Jio, who incorporates an overabundance of coincidence in this tale, all of which serve only to stretch the novel's believability to the breaking point. Competently written, but the prose runs from saccharin to syrupy. Those willing to overlook a series of implausible coincidences and wade through spoonfuls of sugar to get to the fairy-tale ending will be rewarded. This novel will enchant Jio's fans and make them clamor for her next offering.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Jio (The Bungalow, 2011) pens another heart-tugging if sloppily written tale that dances between the 1930s and contemporary times. When young single-mother Vera Ray reluctantly heads off to her Seattle job in 1933, the day is covered in a rare blackberry winter storm a whiteout in May. Upon returning home, Vera discovers her three-year-old son has vanished, and no one seems able or willing to help her find him. In 2010, reporter Claire Aldridge still teeters at the precipice of a breakdown a year after a tragedy threatened the fabric of her life and her marriage. Her boss at the Seattle Herald assigns her a story bridging the years, that of the blackberry winter they are experiencing on the same date that another happened back in 1933. As Claire begins sifting through history, she soon discovers old leads about the boy's disappearance that awaken her own journalistic and maternal instincts as well as similarities between her and Vera's lives and decisions. The intersecting stories and plots intrigue enough to make the pages zip along despite unsophisticated, occasionally stilted language.--Trevelyan, Julie Copyright 2010 Booklist