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Book Review: The Language of Cherries by Jen Marie Hawkins
Genre: YA, Romance with Literary construction (I got an e-ARC from Netgalley)
If we take Bacon’s view, this book is to be chewed and digested. This is a very nuanced book, and not an easy read in the sense that it can be finished quickly.
“Words like late and early were terms relative to nothing in this strange foreign land. They may as well have been synonyms. Or tap-dancing chupacabras.”
Or sample this,
“Dozens of cherry trees danced in the lukewarm breeze. Their sloping rows couldn’t have been more symmetrical if they were drawn on lined paper. They clung to the hillside as though determined, at some perfect moment, to slide into the glassy water below.
Rays of sunlight glittered a magnificent sheen on the waxy leaves and decadent red globes. Something enchanting shimmered in the leftover raindrops clinging to them…”
The prose is almost lyrical and thought provoking. On the flip side, such prose slows down the pacing.
Evie Perez is a teen, belongs to the US, and has to move to Iceland for the summer. Her hobby is painting and she paints the picturesque cherry orchard behind her guesthouse. She lives with her father, as her parents are separated. Besides having issues with her father, she also has long standing feelings of hurt with her mother.
There is Oskar, a handsome Icelander, but he is irritated, and withdrawn. He does not open up easily. One reason for his silence is his stutter. However he maintains a journal in which he scribes his thoughts regularly. Also, he is an orphan, and he is the owner of the orchard.
The story gradually unravels in a layered manner to bring out the past of Evie and her gradual reconciliation with her past and also Oskar’s tryst with her. The story as such is dual POV, Evie’s is written in third person, while intermittently interspersed by Oskar’s journal in first person.
The story by itself is a simple one, but with some elements of magical realism/fabulism brought in through the cherry tree. In a way, implicitly the story reinforces an immutable fate. Also, the book has a powerful message for forgiveness.
This book will be liked by those who like exquisite prose.
Copyright © Anup Mukherjee
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