Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Lemon Orchard: A Novel by Luanne Rice

The Lemon Orchard: A Novel.  Luanne Rice. Penguin Group (USA). May 2014. 304 pp.  ISBN#: 9780143125563.

Two lives engulfed by sorrow meet and find a way of life that breeds survival for both in extraordinary ways!  Julia lost her daughter Jenny five years ago and with that a part of herself so closely were they entwined in their daily lives.  She also lost her husband at that time; but as sad as that was, it wasn’t as traumatic as the loss of Julia’s child.  For five years Julia has kept close to home but finally agrees to house-sit for her aunt and uncle in Malibu, California. The lemon orchard grove and nearby Pacific Ocean breed some unexpected surprises!
Roberto is an illegal immigrant who is the manager of the lemon orchard grove.  All of his money goes to his family in Mexico but his heart lies elsewhere. He too has lost a daughter, Rosa, who disappeared five years ago.  He has no idea whether she is alive or dead, but he holds onto a very dim hope she could have been found and adopted by some kind family. The sharing of that secret opens Julia’s heart and provides a ray of hope to Roberto.

Romance infrequently develops from such pain and yet a similar bond can grow stronger and stronger from the sharing.  So it is here, but don’t try to predict how this all turns out because you will fail for sure.  Closer and closer they do grow as they formulate a plan for the future.  In the process of carrying out this plan, the reader will learn about the personal side of what is a troubling issue to so many in this country America, so often the ultimate refuge of those fleeing poverty, danger and other well-known problems.  But this story defies the stereotypical image of the illegal immigrant, depicting an actual person with a family and dreams of a better future.  No one is taking sides in this novel as to how they should be treated, but reading and pondering this particular scenario puts a whole new light on usually not discussed vulnerable aspects of the problem.

This is the story of a quest for healing and hope.  It’s about how one singular event changes a person’s life and love forever. It’s no storybook romance but a real, gritty and yet charming account of the possibilities of renewal for those who have been rendered fragile through no fault of their own.

Luanne Rice has written many novels but this is one of her best!  Very nicely crafted, Luanne Rice, story with some lovely, lovely descriptions of the breathtaking Santa Monica Mountains and lands around it.

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