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The Lemon Orchard by Luanne Rice. Penguin Books, 2014. 286 pp.

This is the story of a grieving man and woman who had each lost their child five years ago. Julie’s daughter, who was in her teens, died in a tragic car accident. Roberto was an undocumented migrant from Mexico. During a grueling trek through the desert to get to The United States he had left his five-year-old daughter for a minute and when he went back to get her she was gone. He had never been able to find out what happened to her and this, of course, continues to haunt him.

They meet when Julie goes to her uncle’s house in Malibu to watch it while he is away. She meets Roberto who is the overseer of her uncle’s lemon orchard. They become friends because of their shared histories of losing a child. Of course they eventually become more than friends and I found that part a little Danielle Steelish.

Julie had worked in that same desert a number of years ago and with those connections starts to see if she can find out what has happened to Roberto’s daughter. That is a very interesting part of the story as she goes from place to place and starts to piece things together.

Although I did like this book, it was not one of my favorites, but it speaks to what we keep seeing in today’s headlines about migrants, so I thought it was well worth reviewing. 

– C.M.

Peggy MacKinnon is away at this time but will be back to review a book in November.

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