THE LEMON ORCHARD is ultimately about two souls finding rebirth of love and light after devastating events have taken their toll on their spirits. This is what I love about Luanne’s writing. She tackles hard emotional subjects without fear. She brings the reader in with exposing the vulnerability of the main characters, which instantly tie you to needing and wanting to finish her books.
What will happen? How in the world will they heal after that?
Enter Julia and Roberto. Julia’s lost her daughter and her husband in a tragic accident five years prior. There are facts surrounding the accident that suggest there could have been a suicide motive by her daughter, Jenny. She was driving the car. These unanswered questions, plus the crippling image of Jenny and her husband, Peter lying dead in the snow near the accident adds to Julia’s deep-set grief.
Roberto is an illegal immigrant from Mexico that lost his daughter in the crossing across the desert in Arizona. Captured by the border patrol police, he is separated from his six-year-old daughter. Rosa is delirious from hydration and needed to rest for a few moments, while her father secured their position to their next hope to freedom. After Roberto is caught, his daughter is all but lost to him.
Julia heads to Malibu during current day time to house-sit for her aunt and uncle. Roberto and Julia form an immediate bond of friendship when both of their losses are revealed to each other.
When Julia learns of Roberto’s daughter’s disappearing in the desert five years ago–the exact amount she lost her own family–she is determined to help him find out what happened to his missing daughter.
Julia’s line of work in anthropology lend to her ability to help Roberto discover clues could have happened to his six-year-old daughter.
Roberto and Julia fall in love. Their drastic worlds look like a mismatch to others, but with their connections of loss, humble spirits and physical attraction, their souls are destined for each other.
Luanne ties in the backdrop of the beautiful surrounding of Malibu, as almost a third character, infusing hope and renewal into their story. But with Malibu’s treacherous history of mudslides, fires and earthquakes, can this foundation be enough to keep these two souls together? Is Rosa still alive? Will Julia ever find peace in the memories that took her beloved family?
A few other minor characters weave in and out of the plot perfectly, adding other layers to this multifaceted novel. If you have ever felt strongly against the immigration problems that border Mexico and the U.S. in the West Coast region, this insightful look to the other side of the hopefuls obtaining freedom, while literally risking their lives will impact and soften your view with a humane approach that is so often lost in translation by the media.
This book deserves great recognition for many reasons. I felt utterly angered, saddened and displaced by all of the emotions of the inhumane things that are occurring with the illegal immigration issues. So many die are just forgotten because they are not Americans.
But many of us have not heard of these personal stories. THE LEMON ORCHARD exposes hard truths that need to be addressed. This beautifully intense, novel does just this. I would recommend anyone to read this novel. This is not just a light summer beach read.
THE LEMON ORCHARD by Luanne Rice reveals the power of the human heart, while exposing the souls lost on American soil each year in the heat of the desert. I didn’t want it to end when it did. I would love to see a reunion of Julia and Roberto.
Cheers to Luanne Rice. She is one of most gifted storytellers of our time.