Friday, July 19, 2013

Book Review: The Lemon Orchard

The Lemon OrchardAuthor: Luanne Rice
Publication Date: July 2, 2013
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books

From bestselling author Luanne Rice—a captivating and sexy novel of love, both enduring and unexpected

Year after year, Luanne Rice’s fans eagerly await her next book. Their enthusiasm is soon to be rewarded with The Lemon Orchard, Rice’s romantic new love story between two people from seemingly different worlds.

In the five years since Julia last visited her aunt and uncle’s home in Malibu, her life has been turned upside down by her daughter’s death. She expects to find nothing more than peace and solitude as she house-sits with only her dog, Bonnie, for company. But she finds herself drawn to the handsome man who oversees the lemon orchard. Roberto expertly tends the trees, using the money to support his extended Mexican family. What connection could these two people share? The answer comes as Roberto reveals the heartbreaking story of his own loss—a pain Julia knows all too well, but for one striking difference: Roberto’s daughter was lost but never found. And despite the odds he cannot bear to give up hope.

Set in the sea and citrus-scented air of the breathtaking Santa Monica Mountains, The Lemon Orchard is an affirming story about the redemptive power of compassion and the kind of love that seems to find us when we need it most.

The Rileys had told him many times that the important thing was the health of the trees and lemons, and to protect the land from fire.

The Pacific Ocean when on forever, as blue but not a fraction as deep as the sky.

Anthropology, it turns out, had been her perfect field of study: learning about the cosmology of civilizations uprooted from one place and settled in another. She felt the loss of Jenny so acutely, the specifics of their days together, the constellations marking moments in their lives, their own lost culture. Who they had been, Jenny and Julia, mother and daughter, would last forever; but who Jenny, and what their relationship, would have become, ended with the accident.

He was the latest in a long line of orchard managers, all of them migrants, and she’d known most of them, joked around with them, gotten to know their families and – as a child – let them lift her into the branches to pick lemons. They had come from Mexico seeking a better life.

When I first began reading this book, after reading the synopsis, I didn’t think I wanted to finish it because it sounded like it was going to make me sad and maybe even make me cry. I am so glad that I picked it up anyway. The story picks up after Julia has endeared the tragic loss of her daughter and her husband. We see Julia five years after the accident when she has come out hiding and travels to Malibu to house sit for her aunt and uncle. Julia is alone with her dog, Bonnie, and eventually meets a man named Roberto who works on the orchard there. Roberto works on the orchard to earn a little money to send back to his family in Mexico. Julia slowly befriends this man and realizes that they have a lot more in common than she originally thought.

This story is about love and loss, but it was told in such a beautiful light that is became very inspirational to me. Roberto and Julia have both lost children and know what it is to feel that deep pain that starts in the roots of your soul. This is their journey together and how they dealt with those moments of weakness. Rice has really covered a touchy subject here because even though I am not a mother at this time, I could never even begin to imagine losing a child. I hate to feel sad when I read, but Rice writes in a way that makes you appreciate life and all that it has to give. This story is more about the beauty in the breaking, than about the breaking itself.

This is the first book I have ever picked up by Luanne Rice and I was very happy with her writing style and the way she could keep me interested even when she was just describing Roberto working in the fields and tending the trees. The words had quite the poetic feel to them and this was just a book that deserves to be appreciated. I did enjoy Julia and Roberto’s relationship and how they came to know each other. It is always fascinating to me to see how each author introduces his or her characters to one another. Their relationship felt realistic and highly believable, and it is what they make movies out of!

***A copy of this book was sent to me by the publishers at Pamela Dorman Books in exchange for my honest review***

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