The Berry Pickers, by Amanda Peters

I’m not sure if everyone has a moment in their childhood that defines who they grow to be, but I have no doubt many of us do.  For me, it was a certain night during the summer of 1980 that forever lowered my tolerance for conflict and created in me the kind of peace-making personality that ultimately proved nearly fatal to my mental and physical health.  Others might not have such a defining moment, but rather a series of events through a period of time during which they emerged…changed.  While all change leads to growth, I worry that some of us have branches of ourselves that have grown warped and are rotting.

In The Berry Pickers, Joe has such a moment when his sister goes missing during the summer of 1962 (not a spoiler; it’s on the back of the book, but I did spend several anxious pages waiting for the poor thing to vanish.)  Over time, we bear witness to the pieces of Joe that warp and rot away as he struggles to find a life under the crushing burden of carrying responsibility for his sister’s disappearance.  I believe that many of us will recognize the horror of life simply moving on after such an event.  Regardless.  Relentless.  And with such sickening banality, as we’re over here, just struggling to breathe.

Read The Berry Pickers for what is has to say about forgiveness.  I’m not sure I always agree with the message, but Peters does a beautiful job exploring all its facets.  Read the book to learn more about the Mi’kmaq people of Nova Scotia, who have sadly slipped from the pages of history books.  And read the book the learn the lesson I’m not sure Joe ever did…forgive yourself.

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