The Berry Pickers: A Novel (Hardcover)
THE BERRY PICKERS by Amanda Peters packs a true, honestly-earned emotional wallop! While a family of Mi'kmaq migrate to Maine to pick blueberries, the four year old daughter goes missing, never to be found, and her older brother is devastated by her loss. Wracked with guilt, he goes through life on the edge of fury while she grows up in an overprotective household with an unstable mother, dreaming of a past she doesn't understand. There's no mystery to if she is the kidnapped child, but the novel beautifully focuses on how childhood trauma can follow us through our lives and how we react in different manners to it. Every note rings true in this terrific book, and I can't wait to sell it to people!— From Bill recommends
July 1962. A Mi’kmaq family from Nova Scotia arrives in Maine to pick blueberries for the summer. Weeks later, four-year-old Ruthie, the family’s youngest child, vanishes. She is last seen by her six-year-old brother, Joe, sitting on a favorite rock at the edge of a berry field. Joe will remain distraught by his sister’s disappearance for years to come.
In Maine, a young girl named Norma grows up as the only child of an affluent family. Her father is emotionally distant, her mother frustratingly overprotective. Norma is often troubled by recurring dreams and visions that seem more like memories than imagination. As she grows older, Norma slowly comes to realize there is something her parents aren’t telling her. Unwilling to abandon her intuition, she will spend decades trying to uncover this family secret.
For readers of The Vanishing Half and Woman of Light, this showstopping debut by a vibrant new voice in fiction is a riveting novel about the search for truth, the shadow of trauma, and the persistence of love across time.
"A sensitive and devastating saga of families broken, children stolen, and fierce reckonings with the traumas of history . . . [Its] emotional climax will leave most readers with at least a tear in the eye." —Molly Odintz, CrimeReads
"Peters beautifully explores loss, grief, hope, and the invisible tether that keeps families intact even when they are ripped apart. A poignant debut from a writer to watch." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Peters' debut combines narrative skill and a poignant story for a wonderful novel to which many readers will gravitate . . . Indigenous stories like this matter." —Booklist
"Enthralling . . . Powerfully rendered . . . [A] cogent and heartfelt look at the ineffable pull of family ties." —Publishers Weekly
"One family’s secret is the source of another family’s pain in this poignant debut that reads like a modern literary classic. Moving, heartbreaking, and hopeful, The Berry Pickers is a powerful tale of haunting regret, bonds that will never be broken, and unrelenting love. Amanda Peters’s skilled storytelling evokes all the sensations of summer in Maine, singing around a fire, and the horror that takes hold when a child goes missing." —Nick Medina, author of Sisters of the Lost Nation
"With every sense engaged, and in a lyrical tribute to her father's stories, Amanda Peters manages to take you home to the east coast in the very best ways—through family love and personal grief and the precious accounting of minutes and memories. You cannot help but love these characters from the first chapter, they stay with you long after the last page.” —Cherie Dimaline, author of The Marrow Thieves
“A marvelous debut. The Berry Pickers has all the passion of a first book but also the finely developed skill of a well-practiced storyteller. I can’t believe Amanda Peters is just getting started. She writes like someone who has been doing this a long time, and no doubt she has, only now we get to share in the creativity of her amazing mind. She’s going to be the next big thing. I am placing my bets now. The Berry Pickers is a triumph.” —Katherena Vermette, author of The Strangers
“The thing about picking a handful of berries is that each one is different—some are sweet, some sour, some extra juicy. The Berry Pickers is just like a handful of berries. It’s an unassuming novel filled with so much sweet, so much sour, so much juice. Reading this book, I was only ever hungry when it ended.” —Morgan Talty, author of Night of the Living Rez
“The Berry Pickers is an intimately written tale of the destruction wreaked on a family when their youngest child is stolen. Peters brilliantly crafts a multi-layered tale of how one irrational act creates irrevocable harm that ripples through multiple lives, including, ironically, the lives of the perpetrators. Peters’s smooth prose combined with exceptionally drawn descriptions allows the reader to share the sensory experiences of the characters, making this a fluid and emotional read that is both plainly and beautifully rendered. On a meta level, the book eloquently speaks to the deep loss and existential searching that Indigenous children who were scooped and placed in non-indigenous homes are haunted by throughout their lives. An amazing read from an amazing new voice.” —Michelle Good, author of Five Little Indians