Tuesday, June 21, 2011

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥: The Blackberry Bush by David Housholder

Release Date: June 1st, 2011
Publisher: Summerside
Page Count: 172
Source: Complimentary copy provided by B&B Media Group in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you!)
An invitation to a treasure hunt through the landscape of your soul...

Josh grows up an artistic and gifted California Golden Boy, but for all that life has handed to him, he struggles with his identity and role in the world. Surrounded by unrealistic expectations, he feels hedged in.

Kati's German heritage presents its own obstacles to understanding herself and what freedom means. She is crushed by disappointment at never being "enough"—especially for a mother who cannot be satisfied.

As Josh and Kati's lives unfold, longing for true freedom reverberates in their souls. Come discover with them the life-transforming power of a "chance encounter"... or is it chance after all?
What Stephanie Thinks: If you've lived long enough, you know that nothing in life is a coincidence. Ever witness a miracle? It probably wasn't unintentional, and if you think about it closely, received help from a stranger hand. Though in The Blackberry Bush, this type of intervention is implied to be spiritual, I don't think you have to be Christian (or religious, for that matter) to understand the concept.

Angelo, the unseen and almost unreal narrator who ins and outs from the telling of this story—or these stories, I should say—tampers with the lives of not only our protagonists, Kati and Josh, but also with those of their ancestors, the ones who have shaped their life stories as they know it. He can be considered an angel. Or maybe even God. But I find that part irrelevant, as I'm not a fanatical Christian. For all we know, Angelo could represent a loving grandparent. Or he may not be a person at all, and could instead symbolize the random acts of kindness strangers maneuver. 

To sum up the plot, Josh and Kati live very separate, almost opposite, lives, but are more alike than they could imagine. They come from the same lineage, but don't even know of each other's existence. Josh lives in a world that will never please him. Kati lives in a world that can't be pleased. A life-altering event changes both of their destinies, but for different reasons. While Kati gets her life saved, Josh redeems his true moral value when their paths cross. But of course, at the time, they merely think of it as a coincidence. Which, of course we know, do not exist.

Housholder's voice is strong and easy to read. The quality of the literature is not sublime, but the connection he draws about life and community both haunts and graces. His figurative story is told simply but flowingly in The Blackberry Bush, and for that reason, makes it one of the most thoughtful and remarkable novels of our day.

Stephanie Loves: "I especially like cartwheels. They say boys can't do them, but they are so wrong. I never go a day without cartwheeling. I can even cartwheel along the top of the old stone wall. Mom would wig if she saw that. For an instant in the middle, you feel weightless. There has to be a way to make that moment last longer.

Radical Rating: 7 hearts: Not without flaws, but overall enjoyable. ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥