Title: The Blueberry Years: A Memoir of Farm and Family
Author: Jim Minick
Release Date: August 31, 2010
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
When Jim and Sarah Minick decide to pursue their dream of owning an organic blueberry farm, they didn’t realize how much work their dreams would entail. This memoir chronicles their “blueberry years”, the years they worked as teachers during the day and as farmers on the nights and weekends, tending to their blueberry crops and creating something amazing.
The Blueberry Years is a beautifully written memoir about Jim Minick’s twelve years as a blueberry farmer. With all the contemporary discussions about homesteading and sustainability, Minick’s book is a fascinating glimpse into the life of someone who tried to practice these noble yet difficult ideals. I admired Jim’s determination and dedication, especially considering he had a day job and thus the blueberry farm was a labor of love. Even more, I thought it was incredible he chose to grow his blueberries organically, especially considering the advice of his friends and neighbors on how difficult it would be. Jim’s resolve to make his blueberry years work for him and Sarah were really the backbone of this charming memoir.
While many people romanticize the “simpler” life of farming, Minick dispels all glorified notions on the subject. He discusses each painful, difficult step in detail, from his (failed) experiment with beekeeping to trying to clear space for the blueberry bushes on the farm. It’s both eye-opening and engrossing. The best part of the memoir, however, is when Minick discusses the simple rewards, those small blue berries that make every muscle ache, every drop of sweat worth it. It’s clear how much the author loves blueberries and how rewarding the experience is for him.
The most amazing part of The Blueberry Years is Jim’s gorgeous prose. I cannot praise his writing talent highly enough. At times, I wanted to weep with the beauty of what Jim was expressing. It’s clear that he poured such love into each word of this memoir, and it makes the book a complete joy to read. His prose is a comfort to the eyes, a place of solace and rest. Jim’s frankness and honesty really come through in the book and make the writing that much more appealing.
The organization of The Blueberry Years is also worth mentioning. Jim simplifies the timeline of their years on the farm in order to tell the most engaging story possible, and it works very well. Additionally, in between each chapter is an interlude on blueberries, some information or an anecdote about the fruit, and they’re well placed and interesting. I appreciated how he broke up the overall story with these devices. My favorite part, though, was the recipes at the back of the book; I’d already been planning to go blueberry picking next summer after reading The Blueberry Years. Now I have suggestions of what to make with my blue haul.