Thursday, June 18, 2015

Book Review: The Cherry Harvest

The Cherry HarvestAuthor: Lucy Sanna
Publication Date: June 2, 2015
Publisher: William Morrow & Company

A memorable coming-of-age story and love story, laced with suspense, which explores a hidden side of the home front during World War II, when German POWs were put to work in a Wisconsin farm community . . . with dark and unexpected consequences

The war has taken a toll on the Christiansen family. With food rationed and money scarce, Charlotte struggles to keep her family well fed. Her teenage daughter, Kate, raises rabbits to earn money for college and dreams of becoming a writer. Her husband, Thomas, struggles to keep the farm going while their son, and most of the other local men, are fighting in Europe.

When their upcoming cherry harvest is threatened, strong-willed Charlotte helps persuade local authorities to allow German war prisoners from a nearby camp to pick the fruit.

But when Thomas befriends one of the prisoners, a teacher named Karl, and invites him to tutor Kate, the implications of Charlotte’s decision become apparent—especially when she finds herself unexpectedly drawn to Karl. So busy are they with the prisoners that Charlotte and Thomas fail to see that Kate is becoming a young woman, with dreams and temptations of her own—including a secret romance with the son of a wealthy, war-profiteering senator. And when their beloved Ben returns home, bitter and injured, bearing an intense hatred of Germans, Charlotte’s secrets threaten to explode their world.

“Let the record show you – you – are making a bargain with the devil.”

It wasn’t a new dream – it came with the rustling of branches, raccoons in the tree or deer in the brush below – but this time the eyes belonged to Nazi prisoners. Leering, laughing.

“When those Nazis are in your orchard, I might just come by with Papa’s rifle and shoot them out of the trees.”

Very rarely do I find a book that grabs me from the first page and does not allow me to move away until I have finished the novel. The story was so rich and vast and had me so enamored in its history and detailed language. The novel follows the Christiansen family as they face a war that is raging in Europe. They are a tight knit family living in Wisconsin, raising a cherry farm, and trying to rise above the rations and horrible news that keeps finding its way home from the war front. The cherry farm is operating without workers because so many people are off to war, so it is up to Charlotte and Thomas to ensure that the cherry farm continues in operation. All types of conflict arises when German POW’s are sent to work on the cherry farm and our main character, Charlotte, is forced to face her internal conflict and all the struggles that come along with these Nazi soldiers working right under her nose right on her family’s land.

There are so many raw emotions that will be awakened inside of you as you read this book. You will experience the struggle of family members left at home during war time and then you will experience the wounds of war when one of the Christiansen men come back home carrying all of his war burdens directly on his shoulders. This story is so engrossing and can sometimes be so honest and real at times that you fear for what people must have witnessed and experienced during World War II. I have read many novels set during WWII, but none as powerful and as moving as this fictional account. Do yourself a favor and immerse yourself in this book.

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at William Morrow in exchange for my honest review*** 

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