Cover Image: The Language of Cherries

The Language of Cherries

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Member Reviews

Enjoyed this book.  It might not be the most original take, but it was still an enjoyable read. Looking forward to reading more by this author in the future.
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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing a copy for review.

This book is the slowest of slow burns. Don't get me wrong, the writing is lyrical and beautiful and has the softest touch of magic. I loved Evie and Oskar almost immediately. However, if lyrical writing and very character driven stories aren't your thing I highly doubt you would enjoy this. 

This is the story about two teenagers who feel lost and out of place. Evie has been pulled from her Abuela and home in Miami to live in Iceland for the summer with her father. She escapes by painting in the cherry orchard behind their house. There she meets Oskar. Oskar is tall, handsome, and refuses to speak. He hates his stutter, and Americans, especially since one caused the accident that took his family away from him 5 years ago. They each, in their own way, find peace with themselves through each other. Oskar's aunt was a fresh breath of levity throughout the story.

I really loved how integral art and music were to the characters, and thus the story. The imagery in here is amazing. I would have liked maybe a little bit more of the scenery of Iceland, but the cherry orchard was a lovely setting. I am not a huge fan of cherries, but I was definitely wanting some by the end of this book. The relationship between Evie and Oskar was such a slow burn it was almost painful. They danced around each other for about 65% of the book. The last 20-25% of the book is where everything really happened. For as much as I like a good slow burn this was almost a bit too much, and yet it went well with the characters and overall story. Despite this, I felt like the ending was almost rushed, which is ironic. 3.5/5 overall
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This was a slow read, but it was so worth it for me. It took about a third of the book to fully get hooked, but I had a feeling it would have a good payoff, and I was right. The Language of Cherries was a book filled with emotional depth that I rarely see in YA books.

Told in alternating perspectives of Evie and Oskar, with Evie's being a narrative and Oskar's being his journal, the book swings between positive and optimistic to angsty from chapter to chapter. In other circumstances, this may have been jarring, but it worked for this book and these characters. Evie, though she was having family issues, was overall a positive character; Oskar was a brooding teenage boy. It felt right.

I liked the slightly mystical aspect of the cherries, how they "introduced" Evie to people she never could have met and gives her the opportunity to paint them. The only part that didn't sit well with me was Oskar's silence. I have struggled with a speech impediment my entire life, and it is still a hurdle to overcome. I would NEVER go silent and just pretend I couldn't talk though, and that just felt wrong that he did that.

Other than that, the book was flawless and deep. The relationship that blossomed didn't seem forced, and the setting was depicted beautifully. I highly recommend.
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It is a slow burn and not something I was up for when I picked this up.  It has its beautiful moments and has n extremely pretty cover. Not something that completely blew me away but a fairly decent YA Contemporary read.
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Evie is in Iceland, with her scientist father.  It's not where she wants to be, though. She wants to be back in Miami with her Abuela; but Abuela has dementia, and is in a care facility. Evie's mother lives in New York and the two barely have a relationship; Evie's parents split up when she was little, and she was raised by her father and his mother.  Having idolised her father for most of her young life, Evie's resentment towards him starts to grow. He barely has any time for her while he's working long hours, and she knows no-one in Iceland, and the WiFi is so bad that staying in touch with friends at home is made very difficult.  

She's an artist, though, and the urge to paint is strong. She takes her paint and canvases to the cherry orchard a short walk away, and is inspired to paint like she has never done before.It's in the orchard that she first meets Oskar, a very attractive young local. His aunt, Agnes, owns the only shop in the village, which is also the post office, and café. Agnes is Scottish and Oskar's only living relative. She and Evie form an easy relationship while Oskar and Evie fall for each other, without him ever speaking a word to her. 

The story is told from Oskar's point of view, through his journal, and a limited third-person narrator who presents Evie's point of view. His reluctance to speak to Evie is explained clearly, and it's understandable but you know he's going to have to tell her sometime, somehow. The reveal comes at a crescendo of the book - with a culmination of events leading to a sudden change in fortunes for all involved.  

The ending is comfortingly predictable, but not twee. 'The cherries play their part, which is revealed gradually, and with a lightness of touch in Jen Marie Hawkins's writing. 'The Language of Cherries' is a gorgeous read. I think what makes it really special is the melding of absolute - almost boring - normality with the lightest touch of magical realism.
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I requested this ARC on a whim because this synopsis intrigued me and I am thrilled to say it is now one of my favourite reads of 2020 so far!
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I received a free digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Super quick and enjoyable read. The story itself is a slow burn. There is a lot to love about this book, that I can't go into detail about without spoilers. The poems from Oskar's journals were absolutely beautiful.

Thank you kindly to the author, the publisher, and NetGalley for this review copy.
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IIt was the cover that drew me in – the gossamer cherry blossoms intertwined with the fruit against the pale blue background – a canvas that replicates the tangy taste of first love – confusing yet relishing – like the first bite of a ripe cherry.

Evie and Oskar both first meet in a cherry orchard in Iceland. Evie is from Florida and is here, against her wishes, for the entirety of summer accompanying her dad on his job, while Oskar lives and works in the family cherry orchard with his aunt, who runs a cafe. 

Their first meeting is… well less than welcoming. Evie and Oskar, don’t speak the same language; she speaks English and Spanish, and he, communicates in gestures and facial expressions every adolescent boy comes programmed with in his DNA. But, they manage to create a bond because trapped on an island where the only two people are adults, friendship often overrides the barely hidden angst.

We learn what they think of each other and their backstories through their own chapters. Evie’s through her paintings and inner thoughts, is more of the emotional talker between the two and of Oskar through his short length poems that reveal a hesitant but ready flyer who needs but a little more than push and shove to open up.

Hawkins has masterfully captured the teenage angst and the sense of loneliness that comes during the age, where the misplaced sense of ‘me against the world’ thought is worn with a false sense of bravado, hidden turmoils of grief and inapt guilt overpowers rationale, and the need to express feelings comes in spurts and bursts out in staccato, often causing more damage than healing.

The characters are drawn out exquisitely, rich in their personalities, drawing even the most placid reader into the rich world of Evie and Oskar. I guess, the nostalgia of always reading about first love does something to a reader of any age.

Evie, is a talented budding artist who uses her emotional depth to paint the most visceral and vivid paintings, always a re-creation of her emotions on the subject her grandmother. Oskar, whom she chances upon in the erstwhile cherry orchard, is a budding poet or a rapper – it wasn’t clear. Each uses her and his talent to write about their POV; Oskar’s especially grows more loquacious and in depth as he opens up more to Evie and his aunt ergo the reader about his guilt of surviving, his feelings towards Evie and his aunt, and his dreams.

Hawkins writing evokes a sense of protectiveness around Evie and Oskar; given their tragic backstories, but isn’t hesitant to throw them under the bus to get them to see beyond their self-imposed grey tinted glasses.

The narrative dwells on and describes the growth these two very talented teenagers, forced to interact in Iceland for the summer, and how while they challenge each other; overcoming the language barrier and parental opposition, and their own imposter syndrome of their self-worth, they manage to forge a bond and connection that unites them in the future.

A YA book, The Language of Cherries is a simmering book, slow in its pace but it building up to a fragrant cherry pie that is as tart as it is sweet.
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It pained me to put this book down, so I tried to read it whenever I could and I already feel like starting it again. Hawkins captures the beauty of Iceland, of art, of the different characters with her lyrical writing. It can be both sweet and heartwarming, as well as dark themes. 

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an arc of this amazing book via netgalley
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This one was really hard to rate for me. This feels like a 3.5 but I've been trying really hard not to give half stars anymore. There was a lot of beautiful writing, and I definitely felt wrapped up in it while I was reading but in between I didn't feel a strong pull to keep reading.

I enjoyed the incorporation of so many cultures, as well as the exploration of creativity, especially creativity for yourself and not for the world. I think grief could have been explored better but I do lack experience with it.

I don't have too much to say about this really. It was a quick read but I think it would have benefited from being just a tad longer, exploring the characters relationships with their families a bit more. Things wrapped up fine but I think a couple familial relationships could have been fleshed out a lot more.
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Evie and Oskar's relationship was very sweet, but it was incredibly slow. The language was very poetic and sweet as well. The setting was really cool, as the book takes place in Iceland. It took me a while to get invested in the story, with how slow their relationship moved. I thought Evie's feelings and how she handled moving were realistic. I liked the artistic aspects of the book, both Evie and Oskar were artists and very creative. Overall, really cute YA romance novel.
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Interesting lyrical read, but a little slow for the first half of the book. Thought about putting it down a few times, but glad I didn't because the last half was so good!
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I think that the premise of this book is highly intriguing, and the writing is absolutely beautiful at points. Unfortunately, The Language of Cherries suffers from a sluggish pace that is not merely a slow burn, and its take on dual POV, while unique, only aids in this clumsy and sluggish plot progression. The interruption of Evelyn's POV with Oskar's POV (told in poetry, rather than narrative) could have worked if it was written with a little more flow and didn't interrupt Evelyn's at points, making it read awkwardly. 

In general, The Language of Cherries is written in the language of beauty, but the plot and pacing suffers.
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I cannot begin to describe how beautiful this book is. The writting is so poetic and atmospheric. I don't want to talk much about it because I genuinely think the best thing is to go into The Language of Cherries blind, but the relationship between the two main characters has such a right pacing, it's a progression of accepting who you are and accepting love into your life.
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I really enjoyed this book. I stayed up all night just to see what will happen. The story drew me in from the location, the main characters, and the cherry trees. Thanks for the free read!
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This book will definitely pull your heart strings and make you think. I wasn't sure about this book but I really enjoyed it. I loved that this book was set in Iceland. I also could really relate to the main character which doesn't always happen when I read. I will be purchasing this book for my libraries YA collection.
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I dont think I can explain how much I loved this book. The slow burn romance was perfect. The small amounts of magical realism made it perfect. You also have two MCs who have an amazing storyline. It follows a girl named Evelyn and she goes to Iceland to stay with her dad (I cant recall if it was for summer or Winter vacation. There she meets Oskar. He has a speech issue and decides to not tell her about it for fear of being judged by a girl that he develops feelings for. They go through many different adventures and she learns some secrets about his family. 
My heart truly hurt for both of them. Oskar made me so angry at times but, I also felt his pain and love.

I recieved this book for review from Netgalley!
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The Language of Cherries, an apparently simple romance story with a pretty cover written for teenagers, is a wonderful story that portrays the way loss, in spite of being terribly painful, might sometimes bring you positive change. It also showcases the beauty with which cultural barriers can be overcome. The action of Jen Marie Hawkins’ first novel (published by Owl Hollow Press on February 11, 2020) is set in an Iceland cherry orchard, which is one of the most unique and appealing aspects of this book. It’s full of beautiful Nordic sceneries.
Evie Perez is a Latin-American 17-year-old who has to leave her life in Miami behind to spend the Summer in Iceland with her dad, who’s working on a project for US Geological Survey. She’s missing out on the opportunity to have a real summer with her dear Abuela, whose degenerative illness is only getting more worrisome, and with the first boy who’s shown an interest in her. She’s even missing out on sleep, thanks to the Icelandic midnight sun. What can a girl do in a place where she knows no one and where everything is so different?
She can paint. Evie’s paintings are usually inspired by the music she listens to and she only paints in the Winter – she can’t paint without music, nor can she do it in the Summer. However, in the orchard near the house where she’s staying, her painting hand takes on a life of its own and paints things she’s never seen, while her other hand puts cherries in her mouth. She paints a blond teenage boy who’s stupid cute and who soon shows up in front of her, a real person with a symbol tattooed on his arm – a symbol which she had included in her painting and that keeps showing up everywhere. Is it related to Icelandic magic? What secrets are the boy and the orchard hiding?
In alternate chapters, the book is written from both Evie and Oskar’s points of view. His chapters are part of his journal, which is written in a straightforward manner and in verse. He writes what he doesn’t tell the American girl. He refuses to talk to her, since she must suffer from the same “American mentality” as the tourist who killed his entire family (except for his aunt, who runs the orchard) in a car accident. He leads Evie to believe he doesn’t know any English and cannot therefore understand her. But there’s something instantly attractive about her… She makes him feel like writing songs again, something he hasn’t done since the accident. And how is she able to paint scenes from his past family life in such detail? Will he be able to come out of this lie and talk to her?
This book really shows how true and healthy love stimulates and encourages creativity – instead of draining it, as unfortunately happens in many romanticized toxic relationships in Young Adult novels. Evie gets Oskar to get back into his art again after a traumatic event, and he makes her paint in a new, freeing way, fearlessly and without restrictions or criticism. This story also shows how love can help you get over terrible loss and helps you believe that life goes on and you don’t have to let the bad stuff get the best of you forever. The complexity of family dynamics is also very well-developed: the relationship between the two survivors of an accident which took all their loved one, the relationships between a daughter and her absent parents and between a sick grandmother and her granddaughter.
Finally, the presence of different cultures and the existence of characters who simultaneously belong to two different cultures – Evie is an American of Cuban ancestry and Oskar is the son of an Icelandic man and a Scottish woman – also make this book special. The Spanish and Icelandic words throughout the book get the reader more involved in those cultures without making the reading experience confusing (thanks to some lovely footnotes). The stories of both protagonists’ families’ past also don’t take away from the main story for too long and they create a good sense of their backgrounds. That way, the book becomes more than a one-dimensional heterosexual romance between two white, American people (yes, this is Nicholas Sparks-directed shade).
I have no negative things to say about this book. I’d just like to have read The Language of Cherries as a teenager, when I would have felt even closer to the story and the teenagers’ feelings. Jen Marie Hawkins’ prose comes off as that kind of invisible writing style, perfectly correct and simple, that allows the actual story to shine through, and she wrote a very well-thought-out one, that’s moving and stands out. I will for sure follow her career.
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the languae of cherries is an intersting read. it's young adult and kinda on the cusp of that. so i think you should read it.
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'While cherries tell tales...'

After being dragged to the town of Elska in the Icelandic countryside, Evie is less than impressed with her father. She wants to be back in Florida with her Abuela, not freezing in her flip flops in Iceland, of all places. 
That is, until she meets the tall blond and handsome Oskar. And it is anything but love at first sight catching Evie under the sacred Aisling tree, devouring her stash of freshly picked cherries. 
As the days stretch into weeks, however, Evie and Oskar become closer, spending hours in the orchard as Evie paints and talks... and talks and talks, and Oskar listens.
But there's something Oskar isn't telling her, quite literally, he remains completely silent towards her. 
Under the presumption that he doesn't understand English, Evie pours her heart out, but what would happen if, or when, Oskar finally breaks his silence?

There was so much to love about this book, the way it tackled overcoming adversity through the alternating perspectives of Evie and Oskar, how Evie related her struggles to her Abuela's experience of first arriving in the states as a teenager, depression and loss, the importance of family and love. And the portrayal of young love! Poems from Oskar's journal entries were written the way seventeen year olds poetry should be written - sappy! Embarassing! Not perfect prose!! 
I especially loved the way Evie knew what she wanted from the relationship and went for it.

Thank you so much NetGalley for the amazing read!
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