Monday, September 30, 2013

{Review} The Lemon Orchard by Luanne Rice

ISBN #: 978-0670025275
Page Count: 304
Copyright: July 2, 2013
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books

Book Summary:
(Taken from dustjacket flaps)

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 to her surprise, 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 when 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. When Julia makes it her mission to discover what happened to Roberto's daughter, the two realize they both have more at stake in the answer than even they could have imagined.

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.

Mandy's Review:

For the past five years Julia has been wondering what she should have done, what she should have noticed, what she should have said that would make her daughter Jenny not kill herself and her father. Jenny was sixteen years old and had just lost her first love a few months before. Jenny seemed okay on the outside, but must have been hurting more than Julia knew on the inside. One fateful day, Julia is coming back home from running errands only to notice emergency vehicles outside of her very own driveway. Jenny had driven fifty-miles-per-hour straight into the stone wall bordering their property.

For the past five years Roberto has emotionally beaten himself up for leaving his daughter Rosa by the boulder as he ran towards what he thought was salvation. Rosa was dehydrated and delirious from their trek across the desert from Mexico into the United States. The van Roberto ran towards for help turned out to be Border Patrol and he wound up arrested and in jail. Roberto was able to talk a Border Agent, Jack Leary, into returning to the area to look for Rosa, but by the time Jack got there Rosa was gone.

Julia's aunt and uncle have decided to travel to Ireland to trace her uncle's ancestry. While they're gone, Julia has agreed to house-sit for them. It helps get her away from the east coast where she lived with Jenny. Bonnie, Julia's dog, is special to her because it was the last object Jenny touched. Petting Bonnie allows Julia to feel close to Jenny again.

Roberto and Julia's connection is deeper than a physical attraction. They are joined together through the loss of their daughters. As Roberto opens up to Julia about what happened to Rosa, Julia feels Jenny with her again and determines to try and find out what happened to Rosa. It seems like a long shot, but well worth the try.

As the search for Rosa continues, Julia and Roberto grow closer. To say they had a love affair is cheapening their chemistry. You could feel their souls blending together as you read the story. I would probably categorize this book as being more of the literary fiction genre. It was thoughtful, emotionally deep, and engaging. The Lemon Orchard is a truly unique story that I will be reading again.

*A hardcopy of this novel was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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