The Language of Cherries

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 21 Feb 2020

Member Reviews

A coming of age story that had me laughing and also pulled at my heart strings. When Oskar is caught up in a white lie, he never thought that  things would get so out of hand, but the more time he spends with Evie the deeper in his lie he finds himself. The two share experiences with out sharing words. This story is unique in that way. These two characters are young and yet they have been through so much. They each must come to terms with their family relationships, the loss of in Oskar's case, but the lack of a relationship in Evie's case. Forgiveness is also something that the two must learn to do. Forgive themselves, forgive each other, and forgive their families. Only when they begin to let go of the anger they have held on to for so long will they begin to learn to live and hopefully love. This book held my interest from start to finish. I was caught up in the magic of it all even before I realized there was even magic involved. Oskar and Evie will stay with me for a while to come.
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Thank you to Owl Hollow Press and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

This is a beautifully written YA love story that slowly unpacks its story and reveals hidden depths as the two main characters, coming from two very different cultures, meet and get to know one another. Lots of unsaid things drift along just below the surface, and the reader slowly realizes how brokenness can heal as the characters discover their intense attraction to each other. I loved the way the geographical setting was an important part of the feeling of the story - and the ending was immensely satisfying without falling into the trap of being cheesy or easy. Highly recommended!
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A sincere thank you to the publisher, author and Netgalley for providing me an ebook copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I enjoyed this story very much and felt like I knew each character personally due to the description of them. I enjoyed the storyline. This is not my usual genre but in this instance I am extremely pleased and grateful for opening up my mind to something totally different. Thanks again.
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Thank you Netgalley and Jen Hawkins for giving me this book in exchange for an honest review.

I didn't know what to really expect for The Language of Cherries, but the angstiness of our main character drove me into the reading right from the first pages- I mean, which of us would like to leave their world behind for the summer? Evie made me remember how I felt when I started spending my summers in Belgium instead of at home- and I commiserated with her, Her relationship with her parents and not wanting to be bought for the time lost was a sentiment I felt with Evie, and I loved that we got a character with dementia here, and how it can affect a family.

The dual POV adds a spark to the story, as we get more depth and a better understanding of Evie and Oskar, as they start their story not communicating verbally, but still finding a way of understanding each other. It's a bit of an Ariel moment, but in a way you don't want to put your book down for being so good.

The Language of Cherries is a romantic ya story that shows us the power of connection and healing through companionship, without the need to be verbal all the time and make us think how sometimes, we don't need to fill the silence to feel understood.
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Evie is forced to move to Iceland for the summer when her father gets work there. She leaves behind her Abuela, her friends and school. 

She decides to visit a cherry orchard behind the guesthouse they are staying in. She gets a feeling that she has to paint there. Here, she meets Oskar who lives on the orchard and is surprised to see her on his family’s orchard and more surprised to see that she’s painted him. 

Evie becomes comfortable with Oskar and eventually starts telling him everything about her. Oskar pretends he’s can’t speak English, and conveys what he’s feeling through music instead. Will Oskar come clean and be able to talk to Evie?

This was a really cute story! I loved seeing Evies personality come out as she and Oskar spent time in the orchard. The ending was perfect too.
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Evie Perez, a seventeen year old girl from Miami, finds her summer in hot pieces when she's forced to go to Iceland with her dad. In Iceland she knows nobody, spends her days indoors and thinks about her friends and grandma in Miami. However, one day she decides to go to a cherry orchard to paint - only to discover a strange force at hand and a handsome guy among the cherry trees.
Oskar doesn't utter a word to the enigmatic girl, afraid that she'll judge him for his stutter. Thinking Oskar doesn't understand her, Evie spills her darkest thoughts to him and an unique bond forms between the two. Sometimes words are not needed.

I had no clue what to expect when I found this book on Netgalley. Thought it sounded like a cute read, and it really was. It was difficult to get into the story at first, the prose was too intricate with the detailed descriptions, it sometimes made it difficult to read without stopping every now and then to try and comprehend what had just happened. This is a common issue among writers I think. Because this is something I myself do to make my prose more exquisite. Yet, too much of this kills the prose. As the story unfolded, the prose got much better and had hints of exquisite sentences. I sometimes would stop and reread these sentences and think "what a beautiful sentence". And that is what makes a book so great, when you stop and admire the author's work.

I liked this story more than I originally would've thought. And seeing as it is the author's first book, I'm very excited to see what she will write next. This was a beautiful story and I can see it becoming a huge summer read.
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My first 5 star read of 2020!

I will openly admit right here that this book goes completely against my reading grain. I am 25 years older than the main characters, so teenage romance has not been an interest of mine in a loooooong time, and I don't normally like mysticism as a genre, even in teeny tiny doses like this. However, a few months ago, I stumbled across the premise and it just called out to me, so I added it to my TBR immediately. I am SO, SO happy I got to read an advanced copy because I was waiting on pins and needles for its release!

OMG, this has to be one of the most beautiful and romantic books I have read in a very long time! I absolutely adored the author's lyrical style of writing!

Told from dual POV, we first meet Evie. She is in Iceland with her father for the summer because of a project for his job and is completely miserable. She misses Miami, where she is from, and she misses her abuela and friends back home. On top of the usual teenage angst and boy drama, she is dealing with her grandmother being put into an assisted living facility for early onset dementia and she is battling resentment against her parents for both being absent in her life. Her mother abandoned her when she was younger to pursue her own interests and her father is always working and never around. She is lonely, frustrated, and confused and it causes her to lose her passion for her main love, which is painting. One day, about a week after arriving, she finds out that not too far from the rented house she is staying in, there is a farm with the only cherry orchard in all of Iceland. Hoping it will motivate her to paint, she sets out to explore and when she finds it, she is overcome with inspiration. Images flood her mind at lightning speed and she must rush to get them onto the canvas as quickly as possible. One of the images is of a beautiful blond haired boy her own age, who shortly after her painting is completed, she comes to find out is real. Curiosity about the boy and how she painted him with such accuracy before ever laying eyes on him, causes her to want to get to know him.

Oskar, although young, is the epitomy of a tortured hero. An insanely talented singer and musician, he is ostracized and outcasted by almost everyone around him because of a severe stutter that makes it very difficult to communicate with people verbally. He finds companionship in his journal and uses it to express all the feelings he cannot put into words. He lost his parents and younger brother several years before and now lives on his family's cherry farm with his aunt, who tries her best to bring him out of his shell and move past his tragedy, but is unsuccessful. When Evie appears in his orchard one day while he is working, he is completely fascinated by her. She is the first person he has met in a very long time that doesn't know about his stutter or his family, and although it is deceitful, he finds a way to spend time with her without having to actually speak.

This is where the book becomes unputdownable because these two characters find a way to fully connect and communicate without words and in a way that is totally believable. I found myself hanging onto all of their moments together because they use eye contact to do most of their talking and it speaks volumes. There are very, very few books that could ever be this romantic without the character's ever conversing with one another.

So without giving away any of the plot (because there is a mystery element to this story), I will simply say that it is entrancing, swoony, and just so beautifully and realistically written that I cannot stop thinking about it. The only thing that could make it more perfect would be an epilogue. I really feel this book needs one. The ending is a bit abrupt, so while we can kind of tell how things turn out for our main characters, I would much rather actually know.

Thank you to the author and NetGalley for an advanced reader's copy of this book. It was a real honor to be one of the first to read and review it!
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Follows two creative teens from different worlds and different ethnicities discovering each other and trying to communicate without words and falling in love.

Oskar has a stutter and choses to communicate with evie through music. Evie is an artist and paints images from her dreams that turn out to be Oskars deceased family. 

The setting if Iceland was beautiful. I could truly picture the orchard and the lighthouse with all the beautiful scenery.

I also loved that not only were they of different ethnicities and backgrounds but they were both creatives. Which to me helped even more with the way this book was beautifully written as theres so much talk about colour and painting. I wouldnt be able to pick one line that stood out as there were many. 

There was talk of consent too and respect within a relationship or friendship which I appreciated as well, especially in these times.

However to me the story fell a bit flat but I didnt really mind as I enjoyed the writing so much. The setting stood out to me more than the character's did. 

But all round i did really enjoy the book and could quite easily see this being made into a movie.
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After the first book I finished this year, I longed for a more quietly paced book. 'The Language of Cherries' turned out to be the perfect choice for that. 

I liked the surroundings, and the way old words were spilled throughout (and explained at the end of every chapter). I also liked how Oskar's journal entries were like poems. Sometimes the language was just a bit too simple and childish to my taste, especially when I take the themes of the book into account.

I would recommend reading this book to a couple of readers I know, of whom I know they would love this book. I cannot say that I did, but I did enjoy it.
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"The earth shifts on its axis, breathless. Jealous of our gravitational pull."

That was such a sweet, quick read. I've read a fair amount of young adult contemporaries so I am not easily impressed anymore but I have to admit this was a great debut touching on the themes of grief, family, first love and the power of forgiveness. Even though it's short I didn't feel like it was missing anything. The flow felt right and the events natural.

The Language of Cherries follows two teenagers, Evie and Oskar, as they try to find their place in the world; Evie coming to terms with her grandmother's illness, and Oskar redefining his life after the death of his parents and younger brother. I loved the dual pov and especially Oskar's as it was in verse. The writing was incredible in general. The words were simple enough but carried so much power. I have to admit, visiting Iceland has been a lifelong dream of mine but even if it weren't I'd add it to the list after the author's descriptions of the scenery, the culture, not to mention the food. All those pies... Dean Winchester would be proud. In conclusion, I'd wholeheartedly recommend this book. I will also be looking forward to Jen's next books.

Theme Song: My Chemical Romance - Famous Last Words
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*Thank you Netgalley and the publishers for providing me with this ARC in an exchange for an honest review.*

I don't think I have enough words for the emotional rollercoaster of this book.

I was actually, a little less than halfway through, going to DNF it. Because I felt like nothing was happening and the characters were dull and there was nothing for me in this book. But soon I b
realized that this is not just a book you read and walk by unscathed. No. This is a book that leaves it's mark in your mind, it captures your soul and engraves itself inside your heart in the best way possible.

I absolutely loved the way Oskar's parts were told in a lyrical/poetic style. I don't even know if I should say his words or Jen Maries', hit me so hard that I found myself sobbing at the middle of the night.

This is a masterpiece, that should be devoured not because it's just a story about two sad hurt grieving people, it should be devoured because it's a story that might just give you a new perspective. Trust me this is a book that when you reach the end of it, you can't not be affected by it's beauty.
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The writing in this book is so uh-mazing, Also this story broke my heart in all the best ways possible.
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Actual rating 3.5, rounded up. 

A slow YA contemporary set in the beautiful and mystical Icelandic landscape, this book is told part narrative, part verse which makes for a beautiful picture and story, with hints of magical realism throughout. 

Evie has been dragged to Iceland against her will, forced to leave her friends and possible boyfriend behind to move for her father's summer work. In Iceland, she is bitter and angry, but begins to find solace in the local Cherry Orchard she finds, which, along with Oskar, the boy she meets there, begins to inspire her to create magical pieces of art. She paints scenes she dreams of, of people she's never seen before. They just so happen to be pictures of Oskar's dead family. Oskar, still griefstricken 5 years after the deaths of his family, freezes when he first meets Evie. Terrified his stutter will push her away, he pretends he doesn't speak English. Together, they find solace and inspiration in each other as Evie's relationships with her family deteriorate. 

The verse poetry sections, Oskar's POV, were my favourite parts. The language and poetry is absolutely beautiful, filled with such emotion. It really gives insight into who Oskar is and why he continues with his admittedly stupid decision to pretend he doesn't speak English. Oskar is clearly still suffering after the death of his family, and it really shows. He struggles to trust and be close with anyone, and his character devleopment over the novel as he grows and begins to live again is really well done. 

I did find issues with some of the characters however. Evie is one of those annoyingly stubborn but not really in a good way female characters. Unwilling to believe her grandmother's dementia, stupid decision after stupid decision causes a lot of pain and grief for her family. She has a complicated relationship with her mother, but it's one I wish we saw a bit more of. Evie is vehemently angry at her mother, seemingly without much understanding of how it must have felt for her mother to a) have been forced to have a kid she didn't really want by the father and b) who suffered horrific depression and was hospitalized at one stage for it. Evie seems neither sympathetic nor understanding to the struggles her mother went through. Instead, she idolises her grandmother, which contributes to her inability to see the quickening onset of dementia. 

I also found Evie's father unbearable. He desires to be so controlling over Evie yet never bothers to spend time with her, constantly breaking his promises; alongside his threats to kill Oskar at one stage, despite the fact he literally slept with Evie's mother out of wedlock then forced her to keep the child because he's Catholic. The hypocritical energy is strong with this one. 

The magical realism was an interesting and mystical thread throughout the book. I loved the cherries and the spells and druids and how they very subtly swam through the plot. It brought such a mystical quality to what otherwise could be just another straight YA love story. 

All in all, the style of writing, particularly the verse sections, were my favourite part of this book, absolutely beautiful writing. However some of the characters annoyed me quite a bit, particularly Evie's father and Evie herself at times. 

Review will be posted on my blog on publication date (Feb 11).
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This is a book about two characters falling in love in the Icelandic summer, complete with an orchard full of magical cherries... a fantastic premise, and I was really looking forward to something charming and fun.

Instead, the two main characters were both selfish and insufferable for the entire book - one of them spends 80% of the time lying about his ability to speak English and pretending he doesn't understand while his love interest spills all of her secrets to him, and the other is endlessly rude and snarky to everyone (except the love interest), has no respect for private property and takes risks that put other people's lives in danger. And neither of them ever face the consequences for their actions.

The writing is overwrought and the descriptions often take a lot of effort to parse (though perhaps, in hindsight, I should have expected flowery language in a book called "The Language of Cherries"). In the first paragraph there was "trickled sadness through her bones", quickly followed by "the clatter [of a fork dropping] made a sharp statement she wasn't bold enough to make herself". At that point, I really should have stopped, paused, and realised what I was getting myself into.

I'm keen to see what Jen Marie Hawkins writes next because there were some great ideas here, but this was not the book I expected or wanted to read.
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I have very mixed feelings about this book.   I can't decide if I liked it or not.   I did finish it, which is a plus.  There were times I was drawn in, and then suddenly I would be like "what?".  

I think it was a sweet love story.  I love how it took place in Iceland, which was something different.  

I normally love books with dual POV - in fact, that's my favorite style.  However, in this case, it didn't work for me.   Since Oskar didn't speak, we read his thoughts from his journal.  But it didn't read like a journal, and I felt a real disconnect from him.  

I would like to thank the publisher and #netgalley for the advance read.   This didn't impact my review.    I usually write my reviews for future readers; however, I am not sure I was helpful in this case.  I was just so torn about this story.
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This was a lovely slow burn read. I usually don’t read many YA books, but I found this one’s blurb so interesting that I decided to give it a shot. And I’m glad that I did. 
Evie and Oskar’s story is captivating. I finished the book in one sitting, wishing that it was longer. I loved it!
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The Language of Cherries is a tough one for me to review because, while I liked the story and the characters, I had a hard time with the style of the book.

I loved the premise; girl stuck in Iceland for the summer with her workaholic father. While exploring the area one day, Izzy meets Oskar, and she mistakes his silence for rudeness. Eventually the two form a friendship. Its a slow sweet burn and I really enjoyed the spirit of the story, but not the execution.

I really did not like the parts labeled "Oskar's Journal". Yes, it was a way for us to hear Oskar's side of things since he doesn't talk, but I don't really feel like a journal would be written the way this was. "I lounge backward on my bed and readjust Pabbi's old guitar." If this was him writing down his thoughts, I cannot imagine anyone saying it in first person present tense like this. Also, it's supposed to be lyrical, but the things he is writing about is odd in terms of lyrics. It might've worked for me if it was just "Oskar" or "Oskar's Thoughts", but it just didn't match the style of a journal as it is.
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This was a book I couldn't put down. I didn't think twice when I first downloaded it, but I really enjoyed this one. It's a poetic, moving book in a setting of Iceland which I haven't read about before but fell in love with. The way the author wrote, and how fleshed out Oskar and Evie were, it felt like a real story. I haven't read magical realism before, but I felt like it was perfectly incorporated in the story as Evie painted the pictures that helped Oskar to ultimately grow and open up more. Their love story was heartwarming as well, as they fall for each other despite the barrier between them. This definitely tugged at my heartstrings and resonated with me as a story of growth, and leaving things behind in the past. This is one of my new favorite contemporaries, and I look forward to what the author may write next.
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This book kind of surprised me. I went into it looking for another hit for my magical realism addiction, but to be honest, that wasn't quite exactly what I got. But I'm not mad about it.

The Language of Cherries is the story of Evie Perez, an American girl spending the summer in Iceland with her father. Leaving behind a chaotic life in Florida, Evie discovers a local cherry orchard and befriends the woman who owns it and her jaded nephew, Oskar. Afraid to reveal his stutter, Oskar pretends he doesn't know English, and Evie begins to spill her life story to him while she paints.

The story is told in dual POVs, Evie's and Oskar's. One thing I didn't love about the book is that those POVs are told in different formats: Evie's in third-person narration and Oskar's as first-person excerpts from his journal, where he writes exclusively in freeform poems. Initially, I didn't like it. Switching perspective every chapter was jarring and I'm generally not a fan of books in verse. The poetry did grow on me by the end, but the perspective switches never stopped bothering me.

Evie and Oskar's love story was really touching and poignant, and I ended up loving it much more than I expected. This is a deceptively simple story that's kind of hard to explain because so much of it is in the atmosphere and the magic, which is what I love about magical realism.

Because Oskar refuses to speak English to Evie, their relationship takes a long, long time to go anywhere. However, that same language barrier made the telling of the story feel much more intimate, somehow. It was different and refreshing to unfold a relationship that exists so beautifully for both characters, but that they never have a single conversation about. I'm not sure it's particularly realistic or healthy, but it was lovely to read.

All in all, The Language of Cherries is a quiet book. Nothing about it felt urgent or thrilling. But honestly, I don't see that as a drawback at all. It was about beautiful art, and beautiful music, and love. Sometimes, that's enough.
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I’m returning to NetGalley after a short break (if only because sometimes it can be very clear that the books on this site have yet to be published) and this was the first book I read upon my return. Not only did The Language of Cherries exceed my expectations, but it also helped restore my faith in the good books NetGalley may have to offer. Hawkins’ imagery was great, in such a way that while she painted a spectacular picture in my mind, it wasn’t so overwhelming and detailed that it took away from the plot or from what my imagination could conjure up on its own. The storyline was pretty unique, and it flowed at a nice pace as well. My only complaint was the amount of unimportant information I was given about her friend and her crush when I could be given more background to her connection with her abuela. I understand the crush part was sort of relative to the whole Oskar thing, but it played too big of a role in the book for there to be no continuation after she cut them off in the beginning. Overall though, I really had no complaints and my only gripe didn’t even affect me until after I had finished the book and was reflecting on it for this review.
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