The Language and Cherries by Jen Marie Hawkins
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Magical Realism
Publisher: Owl Hollow Press
Publication Date: 11 February 2020
When Evie Perez is cut off from everything she loves and forced to move to Iceland for the summer, she takes her canvas and paintbrushes into the picturesque cherry orchard behind her guesthouse. She stains her lips with stolen cherries in the midnight sun and paints a boy she’s never met.
Oskar is startled to discover Evie in his family’s orchard, and even more surprised to see himself on her canvas. Too ashamed to reveal his stutter, he remains silent as Evie returns day after day to paint, spilling confessions she wouldn’t even tell her priest.
As Evie’s life back home unravels, Oskar wants to comfort her with words, but he knows he’s waited too long, so he uses music instead. But when it all comes to the surface, he knows that if Evie can’t forgive him for lying, he may never forgive himself for surviving.
I received an e-ARC from the author/publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
The Language of Cherries was a quick, easy read for me. At only 260 pages I polished it off in a few hours one afternoon.
I don’t have a lot to say about this one. It’s pretty much what you’d expect from a YA contemporary romance. What sets it apart is the inclusion of magical realism elements, which were a nice touch and helped move the story along.
Chapters alternated between third person, following Evie’s perspective; and first person diary entries from Oskar’s point of view.
I thought that The Language of Cherries was well written, and I enjoyed reading about Oskar and Evie’s relationship as it developed.
Both characters are extremely creative individuals, and both have their share of problems. Oskar has a stutter, which causes him a lot of anxiety. But he’s also dealing with grief. The two combined have caused him to isolate himself from basically everyone around him. Meanwhile, Evie is dealing with family problems, and the declining state of her grandmother’s mental acuity due to dementia. In addition, she has been physically isolated by the move to Iceland.
I liked how there was a balance between the romantic elements and the exploration of the characters’ lives in general. I thought the themes of grief and isolation were handled really well, and I appreciated that both characters are experiencing those things for very different reasons.
Overall, I’d recommend this book to fans of YA contemporary/ romances.