Raspberries are sweet, vinegar is tart

Cover of Raspberries and Vinegar by Valerie ComerI’m supposed to be working on writing my next cozy mystery. Instead, I spent a good chunk of the day finishing up reading Valerie Comer’s Raspberries and Vinegar. I started it this weekend but got distracted (me, distracted — who’d’a thunk it?), and didn’t get back to it yesterday. So then I popped it up on my Kindle app this morning while I was eating breakfast . . . and just kept reading.

I’ll preface my comments by saying that if you don’t like Christian fiction — if it’s going to bother you to have characters who tell each other to trust in God or to spend more time on their knees in prayer — you’re going to want to give this book a miss. Valerie wrote this book out of her convictions about God, about our duty to take care of the earth, and about how people ought to relate to one another. All of that is there in the book, and it’s not a hidden message. That’s not to say the characters are perfect; they’re people, which means they have foibles and faults, just like anyone else.

Obviously, I enjoyed the book, both the sections that made me laugh and the ones that made me cry — and there were plenty of both. Jo Shaw’s a little spitfire, who’s wanted to get back to a farm since her mom took her away from her grandparents’ farm at ten. Zach Nemesek is only back at his parents’ farm because his father has been hospitalized with Guillain-Barré Syndrome and his mom needs help to get the spring chores done. They meet when she opens a door to dispose of a dustpan full of baby mice and throws them all over him. That pretty much sets the tenor of their relationship.

Friends and family play a big part in this book, from the two friends Jo is trying to create a sustainable community with (Sierra and Claire) to Zach’s best friend Gabe and his wife Bethany, to Zach’s parents and his grandmother, to Jo’s mom and stepfather (who drop in for a visit). Everyone has something to contribute to the story, no matter how active they are, or how often they show up. Oh, and I can’t forget Domino, the cute border collie who shows up on the cover and who spends his time happily romping between the two farms.

I expected to like this book; I’ve read other work by Valerie, and it’s never disappointed. I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did, or to be disappointed after reading the sample chapter of the next book (Wild Mint Tea) to realize I have to wait to buy it. If you do get this book, be warned: You will cry. A lot. And it is so worth it.

(Disclosure: I received a digital review copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.)

Remember — Valerie’s going to be stopping by to do a guest post on Monday, August 26th, so if you have any questions, you can catch her then!