If there is a book set in wine country, chances are I’m going to want to read it. Set in California’s wine country? Absolutely going to read it. Yes, I often choose a book by its setting. It’s a cheap way to travel.
The Vines We Planted, a fabulous debut novel by Joanell Serra, is set in Sonoma County, California. A story of two families, intertwined by choices past and present. Amanda finds herself heading home to Sonoma after finding out that her father has been diagnosed with cancer. Returning home, however, means facing Uriel, the love she left behind. She isn’t home long before Amanda realizes that her parents are each dealing with their own issues which opens the door to secrets and betrayals that the family has been hiding for years.
Uriel is dealing with his own problems, like his wife’s recent death and a family member’s pending immigration status, when Amanda reappears. Secrets kept with even the best of intentions still cause damage, but together Amanda and Uriel navigate discovering the truth.
When a grapevine is made to struggle, it brings out a better flavor profile of the fruit. Winemakers want their vines to struggle because they know at the end the wine will be better for it. Amanda, Uriel, and their families are struggling throughout this book, but it is the struggle that will make them better in the end.
Just like a full glass of wine on a summer’s evening, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was easy to read, full of interesting characters. This book is heavy with dialogue which I love. When I read, I like the characters’ voices to be inside my head. It rounds out them out for me making them real. Even though the cast of characters broad, the ties (or vines) connecting them run deep, deeper than some of them realize. The issues in this book are real, relevant, and timely, but never left me feeling negative or heavy.
This book would be a great choice for book clubs because there is plenty to unpack and discuss. It’s a quick read that keeps you engaged the entire time. This book was a pleasure to read and I would recommend this book to all of my friends. Just be aware, you might find yourself longing for a glass of wine while you read.
A big thank you to the author, Joanell Serra, for a free copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
The Vines We Planted by Jonella Serra
Published by WiDo Publishing, May 2018
Genre: Contemporary, Literary Fiction
Where I read: while drinking rose on the beach
Stephenie’s Goodreads Rating: 4 out of 5 stars