Seeking understanding about the circumstances surrounding her sister’s death, Sorrow returns home for the first time since the tragedy eight years earlier.
Following her 16-year-old sister’s death and her mother’s breakdown, 8-year-old Sorrow began living with her father in Florida. Now, realizing that she has forgotten many details surrounding the fire her sister died in, the white teen demands to return to the family apple orchard in Vermont. Started by a female relative 12 generations ago, both the orchard and the strongly matriarchal family structure have endured the ravages of hard times and loss—much of which is exacerbated by their longtime feud with the neighboring Abrams family. Flashbacks capture the feud’s beginning as well as unflinching scenes highlighting the terrible ways both families have escalated the conflict. Sorrow’s interactions with the Abrams sisters signal that the animosity continues in the youngest generation. But spending time in the gorgeously mystical orchard begins reviving Sorrow’s memories, raising questions about the feud and the fire. Sorrow’s quietly fierce determination to break through the family’s silent secrets exposes the grievances that tie the families together as much as they hold them apart. The novel is Sorrow’s story of loss, the story of a family feud, and occasionally an exposé on how small-town traditions perhaps unwittingly encourage a bubbling animosity to continue for generations.
An absorbing, lyrically drawn mystery, examination of grief, and cautionary tale. (Fiction. 14-adult)