Friday, May 6, 2011

review: the violets of march by sarah jio

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Suffering from writer’s block at the same time she receives an invitation to the wedding of the man she’d only just divorced that day, Emily decides to take a trip at the behest of a friend. Emily immediately knows she must visit Great Aunt Bee, who lives outside Seattle on Bainbridge Island. Emily and her sister used to stay with Bee every summer, but Emily has neglected to visit in her adult life. The island proves to hold a number of secrets, including some about Emily’s family, which she discovers as she reads a diary found in the room she’s staying in at Aunt Bee’s. As Emily uncovers the truth about the woman who kept the diary, she also reconnects with an old crush and finds herself attracted to a secretive man in a story that parallels the one found in the diary.

This novel is set on Bainbridge Island, which is not far from where I live. Very frequently I’m turned off by books that attempt a Pacific Northwest setting despite the author knowing nothing more than the clichéd Seattle rain. As Sarah Jio grew up in a town (Poulsbo, if you’re curious) right by Bainbridge Island, she had no problem nailing the differences between the city and the towns surrounding Seattle. Only a local could easily throw in the off-hand comment about a McDonald’s on the island.

The Violets of March is so amazingly good that there’s really not an adjective to describe how completely I loved this debut from Sarah Jio. Some books are so amazing they beg to be raced through; The Violets of March is the kind of book that’s so wonderful that I kept stopping so I could analyze the plot and prolong my time with Emily. I was very much caught up in the mystery and trying to figure out the true identities of the people from the diary. Each second spent with The Violets of March was a pleasure.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Plume.

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