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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Sometimes families can be quite complicated. Add into the mix three adopted children, one Chinese and two Japanese, shortly before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and family life becomes increasingly more complicated. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest in the 1940s, Professor Daniel Jonson inherits his uncle’s gift for storytelling and it’s these stories that carry the family legend through the generations. But when the favorite uncle is killed in the war and the family grows up and disperses around the world, the storytelling inheritance is cast aside. But there is more to his family story that needs unraveling. When his mother dies in the 1990s, Daniel is teaching in South Africa. His natural brother reaches out to him and his close friend, Claire, ventures literally halfway around the world to help him come to terms with the potential selling of the family estate and the mysteries and stories and the missing adopted siblings which will disappear with them. As Claire points out, "Sometimes, a journey to the past reveals why you behave the way you do in the present.” It’s these poignant words that set Daniel’s course in action to bring him home to accept his gift.
David Marshall Hunt’s novel, Strawberry Rhubarb Pie: A family gathering mystery, is a complex tale of a complicated family, a story that crosses several decades, beginning in the difficult early years of the Second World War. The plot begins in the present day with Daniel learning of his mother’s death. The revelation is a combination of mysterious dreams and the early morning call from his brother back home. The plot evolves as his friend, Claire, helps Daniel unravel his past and open up memories that he’s managed to bury deeply. In the process, family mysteries slowly unravel and the full story comes together. Very cleverly constructed plot. And, of course, there is the sweet connection to a family heirloom recipe, the strawberry rhubarb pie (complete with the cherished recipe). Overall, a fascinating read.