In Southern California, there are groves and fields of fruit trees. The line between those who own the groves and those who work on them is distinct and unwavering. There can be respect and there can even be kindness, but romantic love? It doesn’t even need to be said that such a thing doesn’t really happen.
Except, for Pearl, it does. Not that Pearl OWNS the avocado ranch, of course. That’s her Uncle Hoyt. But she still knows better than to tell anyone about Amiel, the apparently mute migrant worker to whom she is mysteriously drawn.
I’m having a hard time sorting my thoughts about this book into something coherent. It was just so lovely. The language, the story — even the foreshadowing, which I normally hate, served its purpose beautifully. I loved Amiel as a real person with talents and fears — you ache for him and for Pearl’s own troubles. So many parts of young adulthood are part of Pearl’s tale — relationships with parents and family, falling in love, friendships changing, decisions and very real consequences. All of this happens with the backdrop of a very sunny Southern California, green and verdant giver of life as well as the dry tinder box that can snuff out that same life with a breath of flame.
I read this in a day; couldn’t put it down. If you love young adult literature, read it.
Rated: Mild for a couple instances of language, some kissing and one tasteful sexual-ish scene (this book would be a moderate for younger teens and a none for adults).