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The Berry Pickers Bets On...

The Berry Pickers

December 2023

I had heard such great things about THE BERRY PICKERS by debut novelist Amanda Peters that I was curious to read it. Clearly, I was not alone as it was tough to get my hands on a copy. It was sold out in so many places. I had read the pitch for it, and when we shared it at our November “Bookaccino Live” book preview program, it was the book that our attendees most wanted to read.

The story opens in July 1962 in Maine where a Mi’kmaq family is picking blueberries. They have come from their home in Nova Scotia to a plot of land where they have been picking for years. Amanda quickly immerses us in the scene there, where they live together in a cabin and begin the summer with their usual routine. Then, weeks into their stay, four-year-old Ruthie goes missing. She literally disappears in a flash. The last person to see her is her brother, Joe. He remembers that she was playing on a rock at the end of one of the berry fields. They search for her for days before retreating back to Nova Scotia with their lives out of balance.

Ruthie’s disappearance will haunt the family and will play into what happens to many of them in the years to come.

Also in Maine, Norma has grown up as an only child. Her mother is very overprotective, wanting to oversee every detail of her life; she is suffocating her free spirit. She suffered a number of miscarriages and treats Norma like a doll that needs to be protected. Her father allows this behavior. A reader will not have to look hard to realize that Norma is Ruthie, stolen from that field in Maine years ago. Norma has questions about some of her earlier days --- memories that contrast with life with her parents. How she learns the story of her past and the other secrets that come to light take this book from being something obvious to something special.

Amanda is a beautiful writer, and I get the feeling that she is destined for a bright publishing future.

The Berry Pickers
by Amanda Peters

  • Publication Date: October 31, 2023
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Catapult
  • ISBN-10: 1646221958
  • ISBN-13: 9781646221950