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Publication Details: 332 pp; Owl Hollow Press; February 10, 2020
From the beginning, I had an intuition that I would enjoy The Language of Cherries, and so it was! I feel blessed for having read the premise of this gem. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing an advanced copy in exchange for my honest review. Cuban-American girl, Evie Perez is forced to leave the life she once knew in Florida to move out to Iceland with her father. She takes her canvas and paintbrushes into the cherry orchard behind her guesthouse. Evie resists enjoying this new life until she meets Oskar, a mysterious guy who sees her in his family's orchard. At first, he doesn't talk to Evie, and she thinks that he doesn't speak English, but the reason why Oscar remains silent, it's because he's ashamed to reveal his stutter. Between sweet cherries and a magical connection with Oskar, Evie begins to feel that maybe she belongs to this new home. When Evie reveals confessions to Oskar about her life back home, he knows he has to tell her the truth about himself, or he could lose her forever. Words are not enough to express how beautiful this book is and how brilliantly it's written. As a Latin person, I can tell the references about Cuban culture are portrayed accurately. The vocabulary in Spanish is precise, too, and makes the story feels authentic. The story is told from two points of view. First, we have Evie's perspective in the third person. On the other hand, we have Oskar's perspective through his diary entries in a lovable poetic language. Their personal experiences greatly enrich the plot. Also, this writing style helps us to feel the characters' emotions and to connect with Evie and Oskar immediately. Most of the books I have read are the Mystery/Thriller genre, so I was surprised to find myself weeping in some parts of this novel. The characters are too human, especially Evie, for not to love them. The Language of Cherries is a relatable book that I not only read but also hugged, savored, and for which I felt a lot of empathy because of the protagonist and her relation with the other characters. Thank you, Jen Hawkins, for writing a necessary Young Adult book with such beautiful, diverse characters and a magical story. Thank you for writing a novel that feels as real as the cherry red and the hidden love in every word of its language.
If you want to know more about the author, you can follow her on Instagram as @jhawksnest