Title: The Language of Cherries
Author: Jen Marie Hawkins
Publisher: Owl Hollow Press
Release Date: Feb. 11th, 2020 (MARK YOUR CALENDARS, Y’ALL!!!!!)
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
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.
***Actual Rating: 5++++++/5 Cherry-on-Top Stars***
Maybe some people were meant to come into your life, but maybe they weren’t meant to stay.
I’d like to start this review by saying that it’s been forever since I last experienced something so incredibly heartfelt, unbelievably touching, and extremely emotional by reading a book. In fact, I was stunned speechless by this earth-shattering piece of story so much that I came up with a short playlist 100% inspired by Evie and Oskar’s, the protagonists’, tales of cherries; thus, I hope you’ll enjoy this book, my review, and my song choices as much as I like putting them together. 🙂
Long story short, the journey of The Language of Cherries began when Evie Perez, a Cuban-American teenage girl residing in Florida, was sent to Iceland to live with her estranged father for her summer vacation since she chose not to stay with her terrible mother in New York. As an aspiring artist, Evie discovered a beautiful cherry orchard right next to her dad’s house, which served as a perfect inspiration for her right when she needed it most.
A cluster of cherries hung from a branch at eye-level, as if the tree reached out to hand them to her. The delicate ruby bulbs glistened as they touched her fingertips. She plucked a few and took them back to her spot by the fencepost, rolling one between her thumb and forefinger. The fragrance squeezed moisture into her mouth. She plopped one past her lips as she sank to the earth and set her tabletop easel on the ground. Silky flesh separated under her teeth, and the pulpy middle melted on her tongue, perfectly ripe and alive with possibility. She discarded the pit on the ground next to her. As she chewed the next two and propped her sketchbook against the fencepost, her dream’s details materialized in fragments.
Yummm! Since when did cherries–such an ordinary fruit–become so deliciously powerful? Little did she know the cherry tree she randomly sat under was…a little different from others. According to Evie, aside from its juicier, riper, and plumper cherries, the fruit itself possessed the magic power of materializing dreams. After having a little taste of a few stolen cherries, Evie’s paintings came to life as if some invisible forces wielded her paintbrushes mysteriously.
It was the only thing in her painting she didn’t have the advantage of glancing up to reference, because it huddled only within the confines of her subconscious–an abstract place she could only reach with a paintbrush. Slow and patient, stroke by stroke, it became a boy.
Enter Oskar Eriksson, a handsome 17-year-old Icelandic guy who owned the orchard with his aunt but secretly battled against his stammer. And by “battling” against, it was more of “escaping” from reality when all Oskar did was keep his thoughts in his English, poetry-formed journal while pretending he didn’t understand the beautiful language, a.k.a. the one Evie spoke in.
“Don’t look so miserable,” Evie grumbled as she breezed out the door past him, bucket in one hand, translation dictionary in the other.
See, they were easily one of my top favorite OTPs (one true pairings) thanks to all the swoon-worthy yet hilarious moments. I honestly LIVED for Evie and Oskar’s ridiculous encounters and cute banters.
“Please just kiss me this time,” she whispered. “I’m so tired of waiting. And hurry, before I bail.”
All right, before I was carried away by their adorableness, I’d like to talk about how this book had had such an incredibly positive impact on me and what I loved most about it. Since this book is partly composed of *ahem* “journals full of bad poetry, unfinished songs, and scattered thoughts of a sad guy who lost everyone he ever loved” (Oskar’s words, not mine), I really loved the lyrical literary notes as well as Evie’s unfiltered inner thoughts throughout the story.
In case you’re wondering, this book was told from both Evie and Oskar’s perspectives, which was undeniably a brilliant arrangement to make everything clear for the readers. The light-hearted tone of the narratives really brought out the best of Evie’s down-to-earth personality and Oskar’s overall broody-yet-caring-enough vibe.
I stand paralyzed beneath the acupuncture of vivid recollection.
To my astonishment, Evie’s paintings and her insatiable desire for cherries from that special tree may have something to do with Oskar’s traumatic experience and that’s all I’m telling you right now. *wink* Aside from the non-spoilery teaser above, I also appreciated the truth in these tales of cherries. The author somehow flawlessly elevated the essence of such a fictional, Nordic folklore regarding Oskar’s family roots as the one and only cherry orchard owner in Iceland, and brought life to Evie’s paintings inspired by the cherries-infused dreams.
She questioned if I’m a druid. For once, I wish I was. So I could track down a spell to turn back time. And start over.
In short, The Language of Cherries was a book about friends, family, relationship, first love, and most imperative of all, forgiveness. The depth of these concepts was splendidly presented by Evie and Oskar’s way of story-telling, and I found myself gravitate towards their self-exploratory journey right after jumping on board of this wild, memorable cruise full of diverse cultural backgrounds. As much as I’d love to better represent the general idea of this book, I know no words can do justice to this beautifully written masterpiece.
Therefore, I decided to share my mini playlist inspired by this book with you and hopefully, you’ll give Evie and Oskar’s “Aisling” cherries a taste. To put it differently, this book wasn’t just one that’d stay with me for a long time; I would artfully weave the amazing experience and lessons into my own life in reality as well. After all, just as Oskar quoted from Bob Marley, “You just got to find the ones (the people) worth suffering for,” and this book I’m holding right now, is a story worth fulfilling.
Lastly, needless to say, The Language of Cherries is a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED read from me and I’m certain you’ll feel the contagious happiness, sense of achievement, and self-betterment at the end of the story.
***Thanks to the author and Owl Hollow Press for providing an e-ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.***
That’s all for this book review and playlist! Thank you all so much for reading and I hope you’re intrigued by this book as much as I enjoy savoring it. Also, please don’t hesitate to let me know what you think about the songs I chose for the story if you had a minute to spare and listen to them! ❤
P.S. My personal fave is SHY Martin’s “Make Us Never Happen” because of the last quote I cited in my review. You’ll know what I mean when you read that part in Oskar’s journal!! Gaaaaahhhh!!!!! *drowning in all the FEEEEELLLLLSSSSS*
Have a great week!
Until next time,