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The Vines We Planted Kindle Edition
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|Length: 288 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this book. It doesn’t have a big publishing house behind it, nor a lot of publicity. But this is an impressive debut, with sympathetic, fully realized characters.
The story revolves around two intertwined families in Sonoma, California, centering on Uriel, a young widower running his family’s winery, and Amanda, his high school sweetheart who returns home when her father is diagnosed with cancer.
Each character is in the midst of a difficult turning point, whether it’s facing deportation, illness, or the end of a long marriage. And as they work toward overcoming these challenges, secrets from the past threaten to upend everything.
Serra’s genuine dialogue and fluid prose uncover relatable truths about humanity:
“He let his guard down for a minute, not much more. But that was all it took, as if life demanded constant vigilance.”
“It took enormous energy to stay sane in this world. She needed to talk to Dr. Love about that feeling. How did other people do it? Stay sane while their lives slipped away like old water funneling down the drain?”
There are times when there’s maybe a little bit too much going on—perhaps certain characters could have remained more in the periphery—but this is a highly readable and engaging book about people seeking happiness, security and forgiveness.
I consider this again after reading the new novel The Vines We Planted by Joanell Serra, a complex family saga touching on a number of themes—loss, redemption, forgiveness, marriage, immigration, love, adoption, mystery, and yes, wine. Plenty of wine. Like an old vine wine, the story has deep roots, taking place in California’s wine country where generations have tended to a family vineyard. But where family also means complicated realities, secrets, heartbreak, and courage to face tough truths about mysterious relationships.
Along with wine, there are also horses. And I don’t say this flippantly. Some of the most beautiful passages in this story center around the Macon family’s young widower, Uriel and his love of horses, the peace and comfort he receives from caring for them. In the first pages of the book, Serra writes, “Uriel understood how to coax an angry stallion back to his stall, when to let a horse run hard, and when to rein it in. He knew never to turn his back on a horse or put himself in the path of its temper.” These words come to define much more than the character’s relationship with horses.
Serra weaves a number of storylines into a larger narrative about how we face our challenges and learn to overcome them. Sometimes taking in all the themes makes for a dense read, but when is family not complicated? The layers of any family run long and deep. The Vines We Planted captures that reality.
So, what wine should one be drinking when reading The Vines We Planted?
The wine has an array of flavor profiles—grapefruit, raspberry, peach, to name a few. And the range of colors includes mango, cantaloupe, and melon, among others. The assortment of possibilities with rosé is like the scope of storylines in The Vines We Planted—complex, but highly drinkable, a book, like the wine, that one can savor.