I’ve cleared out my email recently and have been back to reading the constant onslaught of emails from places like BookRiot. This, as you can imagine, is not great for my TBR! It was in one of those emails that I learned about The Simplicity of Cider by Amy E. Reichert (Gallery Books, 2017). I don’t often pick up a book solely because of its setting, but this one intrigued me because the story is set in Door County, Wisconsin. My mother and my kids and I visited Door County a few years ago, well before the pandemic, and we had an absolutely wonderful time, so I was looking forward to taking an armchair vacation back there (you can read about our trip- lots of pictures!- over at my other blog). Unfortunately, the book fell a little flat for me.
Sanna Lund’s family has been growing apples in their orchard in Door County, Wisconsin for five generations now. It’s just her father and her; her mother skipped out when she was six, and her brother decided farm life wasn’t for him and reacts with disdain to everything about the orchard. Sanna’s new venture, creating hard cider from the heirloom trees, is her obsession, but financially, things aren’t great; the orchard isn’t pulling in nearly enough money to make ends meet.
Enter Isaac; he’s come to Door County with his young son Bass. Bass’s mother died and Isaac isn’t sure how to tell him; instead, he’s trying to give Bass one last summer of being a carefree kid. Isaac takes a job at the orchard (putting Bass to work as well), and pretty soon the sparks are flying between him and Sanna. But trouble is brewing; trees are being damaged around the orchard- purposely- and Sanna’s brother is obsessed with trying to get her to sell the land to a waterpark developer. There’s a lot more to creating cider than just sitting around waiting for apples to grow, and the orchard will be in trouble if Sanna doesn’t figure out a way to save it.
The orchard itself made this a nice setting for the book, but I didn’t find much of the story that gave it a real Door County feel, likely because 95% of the book took place at the orchard or the house on the orchard where Sanna and her father lived. Other than a few mentions of how isolated the community becomes in the winter, especially during times of heavy snow, the book could have been set in an orchard in just about any state. While the setting was pleasant, it wasn’t quite what I was hoping for when I picked the book up; Sanna is an incredibly bitter character who doesn’t want much to do with the community around her, and her lack of community ties made her kind of…boring.
Isaac is a whole mess. His ex-wife was an addict who died of an overdose, and instead of telling his son, he hightails it out of the state, death certificate in hand (but without actually dealing with his ex-wife’s remains, as a phone call from his mother later makes clear), unsure of how to tell his son that Mom is dead. He’s immediately attracted to Sanna, although she’s so distant and crabby that it’s hard to understand why. I didn’t connect with their romance at all, and the mystery of who was vandalizing the orchard was solved in a kind of bizarre, out-of-the-blue manner.
This one had potential, but didn’t quite make it for me. It may be a me problem, that I didn’t quite connect with the book in the way I wanted; there’s no major issues with the writing, I just wasn’t feeling it. And that’s fine. Not every book is for every reader, and this wasn’t mine.
Visit Amy E. Reichert’s website here.
3 thoughts on “Book Review: The Simplicity of Cider by Amy E. Reichert”
Sometimes you just don’t connect with a book as reader. It’s too bad but it happens sometimes.
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Absolutely! I used to feel bad about that, like there was something wrong with *me* that I didn’t love everything that I read, but the What Should I Read Next podcast really helped me realize that not every book is for every reader, and that’s just fine! It felt really freeing to come to that realization. 🙂