The Berry Pickers by Amanda Peters [5/10]

In The Berry Pickers, a solid if undistinguished novel by Amanda Peters, a six-year-old Mi’kmaq boy, helping pick berries in the 60s in Maine, as part of an extended family crew of regular casual workers from Nova Scotia, fails to notice when his younger sister disappears. Riven by guilt for the rest of his life, he becomes a hothead drifter. In the meantime, a young girl grows up in a well-to-do family nearby, questioning her memories and her identity within her family while her unhappy parents shroud her with protectiveness. This is a tale of dispossession and indigenous suffering, and the author is a writer of solid skills, drawing the two lives as the years pass by. The tale carries some weight but the plot signals itself from the very beginning and never deigns to offer any intrigue or sharpness. The start becomes the end, with no climax, and I found myself fretting with disbelief during the read. If you have a fascination for indigenous American stories, The Berry Pickers might well resonate, but my enjoyment was blunted by narrative tedium.

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