Review: Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio

Book Title/Author: Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio
:  Plume 2012
Genre: Mystery/historical fiction – Adult Fiction
: No
Other Books From Author: The Violets of March, The Bungalow

Amazon| Goodreads | Sarah Jio’s website |

I checked this out from my wonderful library. LIBRARIES ARE COOL, y’all!




Told in alternating perspectives, Blackberry Winter tells the story of two woman, decades apart, but whose stories become intertwined when a freak weather phenomenon in May, a blackberry winter, unearths an unsolved kidnapping from the 1930s. Vera Ray is a single mother who is struggling to pay rent with her low paying job as a maid at a ritzy hotel. With no way to pay for childcare, she tucks her three year old son in bed to work the night shift, only to return home to discover that there has been a freak snowstorm and Daniel has gone missing with only his favorite teddy bear left behind. Almost 80 years later, Claire, a reporter and wife in the midst of a failing marriage, wakes up to Seattle covered in snow and her boss wanting a great feature connecting the blackberry winter of today to the one in 1933. Claire finds the story of the missing child that went unsolved and sets out to find out what happened as Vera’s story becomes personal to her — even more so than she’d ever realized.

I really, really loved Blackberry Winter! It was a captivating story that and has made me a huge Sarah Jio fan with just one book. The way the two women’s stories were intertwined and told in alternating chapters really worked for me as I learned more about each women & their life in smaller pieces — which really piled on the suspense! I was so invested in both Vera & Claire’s stories that I’d finish one chapter and be all, “Oh man! I don’t want to switch perspectives” but then immediately be absorbed in the other woman’s story.I loved learning about Vera’s back story and how she became a single mother (umm rather swoony and then completely heartbreaking) while simultaneously learning more about what happened to her and Daniel through Claire’s investigation. That storyline REALLY got to me and Sarah Jio knows how to deliver bits of answers in a way that you can’t help but hastily read because you really care so much about what happened.

I was afraid I wasn’t going to really connect with Claire with the nature of the fact that so much of what she does in the book is help us learn more about Vera and Daniel but Sarah Jio really made her into a character I loved as she had so many of her own heartbreaking issues to deal with that really drew her to this story. While obviously her investigation about Vera was the shining storyline, I thought that Claire’s marital issues and the unfortunate accident that happened in their life was really interesting and I loved the healing that went on throughout the story in different ways. The only thing that I will say is that sometimes I thought things were a little bit too much of a coincidence but not in a way that really detracted from the story at all. But besides that, this book was fantastic & I’ll be reading all of her books!


Blackberry Winter was the perfect blend of mystery and historical fiction, laced with romance, and a serious page-turner. The  pieces of the mystery were revealed in that way that just makes on ravenous and the two intertwined stories were heartbreaking and beautiful. Truly a moving story that will leave you a bit misty-eyed while reading about Vera’s story — both through the back story & Claire’s investigation. Sarah Jio has just such smooth & exquisite writing — the unraveling of the mystery, the scenes that make your heart ache, the amazing characterization & more — it was just all so deftly and wonderfully written. Even if you typically don’t read adult fiction, I’d recommend still checking this one out!


You May Also Like: Kate MortonLucinda Riley, The Bird Sisters by Rebecca Rassmussen (it has that some sort of amazingly revealed mystery without being an overly “mystery” book — great characters, stories that make a mark on your heart, etc). 


Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? Did you guess how they were tied together? Have you read either of Sarah Jio’s other novels?  Which one should I tackle next?

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. This sounds great and exactly like the kind of mystery I love! Thank you for bringing it to my radar–I’ll have to check the library for it soon 🙂

  2. Well, I love Kate Morton, so it sounds like I would enjoy this one, as well!

  3. Comparing to Lucinda Riley = I wants it.

    That’s such a good sign when switching perspectives that you didn’t want to leave, but then loved the new one too. This wasn’t on my tbr, but I think I need to give it a try based on this review. I know most people don’t go for multiple POVs, but I love when first person POVs are done well. There’s really nothing that highlights writing talent like that.

  4. I really enjoyed this one too although I didn’t guess at the mystery. I also thought that things were a too much of a coincidence sometimes but was still overall a really great story. I’ve actually read all of Sarah Jio’s books but my favorite is probably The Bungalow. Hope you love it! 🙂

  5. Sounds good! I love the historical mystery theme in present-day settings. (Does that sentence make ANY sense at all? I’m afraid not!)

  6. I’m so glad you liked this one. I bought it when you said to (cause I listen to everything you say! haha) and it’s still sitting on my ignored Nook. ha ha. But I will get to it!

    Also, I love what you said about not wanting to change perspectives when it came to the next chapter because you loved the first one. I feel this ALL THE TIME, and then, pretty soon after, the author wins me over with this choice and both characters. I need to have more faith but I think it’s a fear I have everytime… like when will I get to the point that I don’t want to put this book down.

    Excellent review!

  7. Oh thanks for reminding me I have to get this one! I really enjoyed both The Violets of March and The Bungalow — she just wraps me up in her stories….Great review!

  8. I’m hearing such rave reviews about Jio’s books. I have this one sitting in my library loot pile right now.

  9. I hope I can track this one down at the library. I love Kate Morton, so it sounds like I’d really enjoy this.

  10. Sounds awesome! *writes down title/author*

  11. Awesome review! I have this on my reading list for next month, and I can’t wait to get to it.

  12. This sounds good. I think I’m overdue for a really good adult fiction title, and this sounds like something I’d enjoy. I wonder if it’s on audio?

  13. This book sounds intriguing, even though I don’t read adult fiction.
    I read a book that was similar to this with the story told from the perspective of two females, a girl and a woman, who lived years apart but whose lives are very woven together called Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay and I loved it! So I’ll most likely love this one too.

  14. I’ve read all three of her books, and I liked them all. I’d recommend either of them next – but I particularly enjoyed “The Bungalow”. “The Violets of March” was also good. I wrote a column for my local newspaper and recommended her books – the plots are very engaging, the characters likable, and the stories move quickly. I recommend her books to a lot of our patrons!