‘The Cherry Harvest’7/29/2015
Featured as one of this month’s Midwest Connections picks, “The Cherry Harvest” is a coming-of-age novel and love story set in Door County, Wisconsin, during World War II, around the time of the cherry harvest. With food rationed and money scarce, Charlotte barters what she can to keep food on the table. Her teenage daughter, Kate, raises rabbits to earn money for college so she may become a writer. Her husband, Thomas, strives to keep the orchard going while their son, Ben, fights in Europe.
With the upcoming harvest threatened by the lack of local men to help, strong-willed Charlotte proposes that the local authorities allow the German war prisoners from a nearby POW camp to help pick the fruit. Thomas befriends one of the prisoners, a teacher named Karl, and invites him to tutor Kate in math. Charlotte finds herself unexpectedly becoming attracted to Karl and questions her love and duty toward Thomas. Kate is becoming a young woman and needs to rely on her own courage to achieve her goals — including a secret first romance with the son of a wealthy senator. This self-reliance is something she learns from her mother, even though she realizes that her mother is not perfect and has secrets of her own. Ben returns home injured and bitter toward the Germans, and Charlotte’s secrets threaten to change their world.
This book explores the tensions that war brings for those who are at home and not just those who are fighting the battles overseas. It makes for a great summer read. CV
Donna Kalsch is a youth specialist at the library, loves to cook and took her first cello lesson.