Some losses we never get over. And when a parent loses a child, grief becomes all the more profound. In The Lemon Orchard, prolific author Luanne Rice explores this experience with creative compassion telling the story of Julia Hughes, a mother whose 16 year-old daughter, Jenny, dies in a car crash that also claims the life of Jenny's father and Julia's husband, a man whom she was in the process of divorcing.
Five years after the deaths, Julia, a professor of cultural anthropology at Yale University, is still unable to shake the loss. But when a beloved aunt and uncle ask her to house-sit for their Malibu property and lemon orchard, Julia packs up with her beloved dog and heads west.
The natural, sensory beauty of the Santa Monica Mountains serves to intensify Julia's memories of Jenny and stir her presence. And when Roberto, the manager of the lemon orchard takes an interest in Julia--and vice-versa--the two, from different cultures, connect and bond through their shared pain of losing daughters. In Roberto's case, his daughter was lost and never found during their illegal immigration from Mexico to the United States. Julia and Roberto begin to fall in love, which inspires a renewed sense of purpose in Julia as she becomes determined to find answers about Roberto's daughter.
Alternating points of view lend intimacy to the romantic elements and suspense of the narrative. Rice has written a tender portrait of grief and loss that ultimately becomes a gateway to hope and healing, love and reinvention.
Pamela Dorman Books, $27.95, Hardcover, 9780670025275 , 304 pp
Publication Date: July 2, 2013
Note: This review is a reprint and is being posted (in a slightly different form) with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (7/12/13), click HERE