book cover of The Berry Pickers
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The Berry Pickers

(2023)
A novel by

 
 
'Lucid and assured' The New Yorker, Best Books of 2023

'For fans of Celeste Ng and Ann Patchett, this quietly beautiful book will break, then mend, your heart' Amazon, The Best Books of 2023

WINNER OF THE 2023 BARNES & NOBLE DISCOVER PRIZE
WINNER OF THE 2024 ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE IN FICTION


***

One family’s deepest pain. Another family’s darkest secret.


On a hot day in 1960s Maine, six-year-old Joe watches his little sister Ruthie, sitting on her favourite rock at the edge of the blueberry fields, while their family, Mi’kmaq people from Nova Scotia, pick fruit. That afternoon, Ruthie vanishes without a trace. As the last person to see her, Joe will be forever haunted by grief, guilt, and the agony of imagining how his life could have been.

In an affluent suburb nearby, Norma is growing up as the only child of unhappy parents. She is smart, precocious, and bursting with questions she isn’t allowed to ask – questions about her missing baby photos; questions about her dark skin; questions about the strange, vivid dreams of campfires and warm embraces that return night after night. Norma senses there are things her parents aren’t telling her, but it will take decades to unravel the secrets they have kept buried since she was a little girl.

The Berry Pickers is an exquisitely moving story of unrelenting hope, unwavering love, and the power of family – even in the face of grief and betrayal.

'Marvellous ... Amanda Peters is going to be the next big thing ... The Berry Pickers is a triumph' Katherena Vermette, author of The Strangers

Genre: Literary Fiction

Praise for this book

"With every sense engaged, and in a lyrical tribute to her father's stories, Amanda Peters manages to take you home to the east coast in the very best ways - through family love and personal grief and the precious accounting of minutes and memories. You cannot help but love these characters from the first chapter, they stay with you long after the last page." - Cherie Dimaline

"The Berry Pickers is an intimately written tale of the destruction wreaked on a family when their youngest child is stolen. Peters brilliantly crafts a multi-layered tale of how one irrational act creates irrevocable harm that ripples through multiple lives, including, ironically, the lives of the perpetrators. Peters's smooth prose combined with exceptionally drawn descriptions allows the reader to share the sensory experiences of the characters, making this a fluid and emotional read that is both plainly and beautifully rendered. On a meta level, the book eloquently speaks to the deep loss and existential searching that Indigenous children who were scooped and placed in non-indigenous homes are haunted by throughout their lives. An amazing read from an amazing new voice." - Michelle Good

"One family's secret is the source of another family's pain in this poignant debut that reads like a modern literary classic. Moving, heartbreaking, and hopeful, The Berry Pickers is a powerful tale of haunting regret, bonds that will never be broken, and unrelenting love. Amanda Peters's skilled storytelling evokes all the sensations of summer in Maine, singing around a fire, and the horror that takes hold when a child goes missing." - Nick Medina

"The thing about picking a handful of berries is that each one is different - some are sweet, some sour, some extra juicy. The Berry Pickers is just like a handful of berries. It's an unassuming novel filled with so much sweet, so much sour, so much juice. Reading this book, I was only ever hungry when it ended." - Morgan Talty

"A marvelous debut. The Berry Pickers has all the passion of a first book but also the finely developed skill of a well-practiced storyteller. I can't believe Amanda Peters is just getting started. She writes like someone who has been doing this a long time, and no doubt she has, only now we get to share in the creativity of her amazing mind. She's going to be the next big thing. I am placing my bets now. The Berry Pickers is a triumph." - Katherena Vermette


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