Title: ON BLACKBERRY HILL
Author: RACHEL MANN
Genre: YOUNG ADULT FICTION, JEWISH FICTION, WOMEN’S FICTION, INDIE FICTION
Length: 194 PAGES
Release Date: 2016
Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Awards Won: National Jewish Book Award Winner
Reena has no desire to spend her last summer before high school at her cousin’s Jewish residential summer camp far away from her life in the city. She may be Jewish, but living with her non-practicing father means that she does not feel a deep devotion to her dead mother’s faith.
When her father announces that he is leaving the city for the entire summer, Reena’s fate is sealed. Whether she likes it or not, and she really does NOT, she will be living at the camp in Upstate New York until her father returns. Reena will have her cousin with her at camp, but they barely tolerate each other, so that won’t make much difference.
Twenty years earlier, her mother had attended that same camp, but her mother died when Reena was a baby, so it’s not as if Reena knows anything about Naomi’s time at camp.
This book is written in two different time periods and from two different perspectives. It tells not only the tale of Reena’s time at camp, but also the story of her mother, Naomi’s time at that same camp approximately twenty years earlier.
How do the two stories intertwine? You will need to read this book to find out, and you will not be disappointed.
Rachel Mann has penned a moving story that goes beyond the Jewish faith. Yes, the characters are Jewish, but that is only a small part of who they are. This book won the National Jewish Book Award, but again, the “Jewish” part of that award is only a small part. Rachel Mann won the award on the merit of the story.
I love how Rachel Mann seemlessly transitions between Naomi’s past and Reena’s present. The fact that Naomi died when Reena was just a baby means that Reena knows almost nothing about her mother. Sure, her father mentions her from time to time, but he really doesn’t tell her much and Reena is desperate to find some way to connect with the mother she never knew. Camp Tova just might be that place.
Author Rachel Mann has a bright future ahead. She has a gift for getting to the heart of the story and to create characters with depth.
This multi-generational story depicts how the choices we make can effect the future of not just ourselves, but of our family and friends as well.
I rate ON BLACKBERRY HILL as 4 out of 5 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Rachel Mann is the author of the young adult novel, ON BLACKBERRY HILL, winner of the 2016 National Jewish Book Award for Young Adult Literature, and the play CLASS MOTHER, nominated for best play at the Winterfest Theater Festival 2016. Her theatrical work has been seen at Forward Theater Company in Madison, WI, Ensemble Studio Theatre’s First Brew, Naked Angels Tuesdays at 9, The PlayGround Experiment, and InViolet Theater in NYC. Her writing has been published and performed at The Forward, Kveller, Liars’ League NYC, Manhattan Lit Crawl, and The Fish Anthology (UK). She graduated from the Novel Studio course at City University London, as well as from Columbia (BA) and NYU (MA). She lives in NYC with her husband and three daughters.
To learn even more about the talented Rachel Mann, visit the following links: