Wednesday, March 28, 2018
The Lemonade Year by Amy Willoughby-Burle
Where did Nina's life take a wrong turn? Was it when her mother drank too much? Was it when her sister, Lola, was hit by a car and her brain became what the doctor referred to as Swiss cheese? Nina's mother poured everything into Lola, and Nina turned to her dad for everything. Nina's brother older brother, Ray, was always angry and took everything out on himself until he ended up in prison. Nina's own marriage? She has a typical fifteen-year-old daughter who doesn't know who to blame when her parents' marriage falls apart, but it's easiest to blame her mother. And, Nina knows her own insistence on trying to have a second child was part of the problem. Then, Nina's father has a stroke and dies.
All of the action in the previous paragraph happens before The Lemonade Year even starts. Nina's a food stylist and photographer whose latest assignment is to photograph images for the book 32 Ways to Make Lemonade. One image at a time, one step at a time, Nina will find a way to make it through this terrible year when her father dies, she and Jack divorce, her daughter turns on her, and her brother, Ray, returns home. Maybe it will take a younger man, the man she unexpectedly kisses in a parking lot after her father dies. Lola's new romance shows promise. Even Ray has hints of hope, if he doesn't mess it up.
It's Nina's voice and Lola's heart that help them through The Lemonade Year. Lola, who uses sticky notes to remember her where things are in her own home, has a gift of lightheartedness and humor. She's a gifted artist who brings love to the story. But, Nina's way with words moves readers along. "I need this release from the grief...I need to find happy again, but I have no idea how to do that." There's the moment when she realizes her daughter is growing up and moving on with her life. "I'm not ready for this. I miss her, and she's still right here."
The Lemonade Year is the story of a messed up family, but there's so much love under the surface. And, it's Nina's account of trying to move through grief and loss and pain to find hope. There's humor and wisdom in this strong novel. Nina's voice is perfect.
Amy Willoughby-Burle's website is www.amywilloughbyburle.com
The Lemonade Year by Amy Willoughby-Burle. Shadow Mountain, 2018. ISBN 9781629724119 (paperback), 352p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publicist sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.