I had seen this book on quite a few “Best Of ______” lists over the past couple of years, and despite not being super pulled in by the description I decided to take a leap and read something new. Amanda Coplin did not disappoint.
I won’t bore you with the plot. You can look up the book’s description via google, and I can tell you that what you’ll find is very accurate. What’s deceptive is that you think you’re reading one story, then two, then three, and then you realize it was all one story after all.
This is a book about how trauma affects us. How past trauma can color our future relationships, how extreme trauma can damage our minds and decision-making abilities, and how the trauma of others, having seemingly nothing to do with us, can affect our lives nonetheless. As I was reading I thought I would see the end of any of the three main character’s storylines, but really there isn’t a happy ending or an ending at all. It’s a book that reminds us, in case we even needed reminding, that life moves on regardless and we need to do the best we can with the hand we are dealt. And boy does “doing your best” mean vastly different things depending on the type and level of trauma involved.
I knew I wasn’t going to get a happy ending and yet I wanted one anyway. Interwoven with the theme of trauma was the necessity of hope. Hope that people will change or be what we want them to be. Hope that there is a future. Hope that things will turn out differently. Despite the mundane ending, I felt good with the message that in trauma there can be hope. Not always, but maybe and sometimes.
The setting is gorgeous and the writing style kept me hooked. You can almost see the light filtering in through the vast orchard, smell the tilled earth and the ripened apricots. You can hear Caroline Middey coming down the trail on her wagon to visit. So even while you are reading things that will make you melancholy, you are surrounded by beauty and love. Always.
If you’re feeling like you’re in the mood for a deep read that will take you places, The Orchardist is it. Light a fire in the fireplace (or at least call up Fireplace for the Home on Netflix), grab a warm drink, and let this book wash over you. You’ll be glad you did.