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Reviewed by Kimberlee J Benart for Readers' Favorite
Wild Blueberries: Tales of Nuns, Rabbits & Discovery in Rural Michigan is a memoir by Peter Damm sprinkled with family photographs and pencil illustrations by Suzanne Anderson-Carey. The black and white photographs are identified in a list at the end. The first part of the memoir is centered largely on Damm’s 1950s small-town Catholic boyhood and flows into his college years in the 1960s and his first travel outside the United States in 1971. The tales from childhood are largely humorous and touch on relationships with family and friends, Catholic beliefs and practices through the eyes of a child, adolescent sexuality, the loss of a pet, boyhood play, and Viet Nam-era college life. The second part sees a move to California and recounts Damm’s emotions and thoughts at the passing of his father, whom he describes as the anchor of his life.
I enjoyed reading Wild Blueberries. The stories from Peter Damm’s childhood and young manhood are impeccably written, emotionally evocative, and utterly engaging. We chuckle at the childhood attitudes and antics he portrays so skillfully and sympathize with the poignant events of disappointment and loss which he experiences. For those of us who share a childhood in the rural 50s or in a Catholic family, the stories are particularly relatable, but everyone can look back at another time when the adventures of childhood weren’t defined by the technology of today and wonder how many of our children are losing out on something important. Love of family shines through these stories even when tinged by hatred for a father’s alcoholism. Love of life shines through even more with all its wonders and challenges. A touching, almost poetic memoir that has me seeing blueberries and bugs in a new light. Highly recommended.