Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cherries in Winter by Suzan Colón

Suzan Colón's family stories helped her through
the rough times when she was laid off from her dream job at a magazine, because of the economy. But, this beautiful book, Cherries in Winter: My Family's Recipe for Hope in Hard Times, contains wisdom to help so many of us through these hard times.

Like her grandmother, and mother, before her, as well as previous generations, when Colón hit a rough spot, she felt "the need to cut back and hunker down." With her grandmother Matilda's (Nana) recipes and writings, and her mother's storytelling as they prepared dinner, Suzan found inspiration for getting through 2009, "when over half a million people have been laid off, banks have gone under, and huge corporations are begging the government for money." She couldn't ask her grandparents how they survived the Depression and the rationing of World War II. But, as she said, she had Nana's files, "proof that we've been through worse than this and have come out okay." It's proof, and recipes, that Colón shares with her readers.

All of the recipes and family anecdotes provided inspiration for Suzan as she cut back, hoped for jobs, studied how her family survived. And, she knew her Nana had dreams that she gave up in order to provide a living. She wanted to stay in school, and go to college, but during the Depression, she was the one who provided a livelihood for four people. She longed to write, and her recipes, poems, and comments are included in her granddaughter's book. Colón knows that dreams sometimes must be put aside for the sake of survival.

But, the most moving part of her book also inspired the title. For there were times the women in the family, down to their last dollars, reached out for beauty in order to survive - spending the weekly money on beautiful vases, or buying cherries in winter. These are Colón's "stories of how our family defied poverty not of the wallet but of the soul."

Suzan Colón may have learned lessons from her family, but she was generous in sharing those lessons of love in Cherries in Winter. There is inspiration, and hope in the book, for all of us in these difficult times.

As a final note, I knew Colón's book was something special when I read the poem her grandmother, Matilda Kallaher, wrote. It's a poem that speaks to me, explains my philosophy of life.


Without my illusions
I should die
Coward, I,
Who cannot face things
As they really are
But always seek
The shooting star,
The Christmas Tree
And only see
What I want to see.

- Matilda Kallaher

Suzan Colón's website is

Cherries in Winter: My Family's Recipe for Hope in Hard Times by Suzan Colón. Doubleday, ©2009. ISBN 9780385532525 (hardcover), 224p.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

It sounds like a really inspiring book, Lesa. I could use one of those! I'm putting it on my TBR list. Thanks!

Mystery Writing is Murder

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Sounds like the hope many are seeking right now - very timely!

Lesa said...

Elizabeth - This is the book, filled with love, that Incontinent on the Continent could have been. Warm, loving. I know that other author didn't get along with her mother, but I'm still disappointed with it. This one is beautiful.

Mason Canyon said...

A very touching story and one that gives us all hope.

Lesa said...

L. Diane - Yes, it is just the book some of us need right now, for a little hope.

Lesa said...

And, it's even more touching when you read the book itself, Mason. It's a very nice book.

Beth Hoffman said...

Great review, Lesa. A good friend of mine just lost her job last month, and based on the strength of your review, I'm going to buy her this book.

She's a good cook and collects recipes, so I bet she'll really enjoy it.

Ingrid King said...

This sounds like a beautiful book that would also make a wonderful holiday gift. I'm putting it on my list!

bermudaonion said...

I can't wait to read this book! Glad to know it's so good.

caite said...

shallow person that I am, I must say I love that cover.

le0pard13 said...

Sounds like a perfect gift book for the upcoming holidays, Lesa. Thanks for this.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Beth. I hope it's inspiring to your friend. It's not an easy time to be out of work, but maybe your friend can use a thoughtful present.

Lesa said...

Thanks, Everyone! I hope you like the book as much as I did. And, I hope you come back and let me know what you thought.

Caite - I have to agree with you. The cover is gorgeous, and would catch my eye.

Suzan said...

Thank you to Lesa for the great review, and to all the visitors who left lovely comments! I'm so glad you enjoyed the book--your words really mean a lot to me. Hope you're all having a lovely holiday season, and many thanks for encouraging a writer!

Lesa said...

Thank YOU, Suzan, for a lovely book. I really enjoyed it, and, not only reviewed it here, but booktalked it with a group of librarians.

I hope things are looking up for you. Have a beautiful holiday season. And, good luck in the future!