Book Review: The Blueberry Years – Jim Minick

Title: The Blueberry Years: A Memoir of Farm and Family
Author: Jim Minick 
ISBN: 9780312571429
Pages: 352
Release Date: August 31, 2010
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary:

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.

Review:

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.

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Comments

  1. Some of our very closest friends have a blueberry farm and we’ve watched their idea grow from a few blueberry bushes for themselves to many plants and summers spent selling at the local farmers markets to opening up their property for “you-pick-it” customers. I bet I could related to this book — and so could they. I must get myself a copy.

  2. Some of our very closest friends have a blueberry farm and we’ve watched their idea grow from a few blueberry bushes for themselves to many plants and summers spent selling at the local farmers markets to opening up their property for “you-pick-it” customers. I bet I could related to this book — and so could they. I must get myself a copy.

  3. I suspect once I read this (and I WILL, I WILL) Jim will be more than just a really nice guy to me. He will become like a rock star!

  4. I suspect once I read this (and I WILL, I WILL) Jim will be more than just a really nice guy to me. He will become like a rock star!

  5. This has been on my radar for a while. Definitely going to pick it up soon. Nice review!

  6. This has been on my radar for a while. Definitely going to pick it up soon. Nice review!

  7. I’m intrigued.

  8. I’m intrigued.

  9. I loved this book too! I’ve started eating more blueberries since I read it too.

  10. I loved this book too! I’ve started eating more blueberries since I read it too.

  11. I really want to read this – it sounds great.

  12. I really want to read this – it sounds great.

  13. This book has been sitting on the top of my pile since before I left for South Carolina, and I really, really want to get to it! It sounds like such an amazing read, and Jim is such a fantastic guy. I know I am just going to go gaga over this one! Great review today!

  14. This book has been sitting on the top of my pile since before I left for South Carolina, and I really, really want to get to it! It sounds like such an amazing read, and Jim is such a fantastic guy. I know I am just going to go gaga over this one! Great review today!

  15. Adding this one to my list, it sounds like a such a good read. I like that it includes recipes!

  16. Adding this one to my list, it sounds like a such a good read. I like that it includes recipes!

  17. love that cover…

    we grow a lot of blueberries here in south Jersey. there are huge, huge fields of them..

  18. love that cover…

    we grow a lot of blueberries here in south Jersey. there are huge, huge fields of them..

  19. Such a lovely review. I definitely want to read this book. Thanks so much.

  20. Such a lovely review. I definitely want to read this book. Thanks so much.

  21. This sounds like a book I would love. Thanks so much for the review!

  22. This sounds like a book I would love. Thanks so much for the review!

  23. I have no idea what happened to my comment this morning, but I hope you don’t mind that I linked this up to Weekend Cooking.

  24. I have no idea what happened to my comment this morning, but I hope you don’t mind that I linked this up to Weekend Cooking.

  25. Sounds like a fun book, I love memoirs.

  26. Sounds like a fun book, I love memoirs.

  27. I so love books like this…my dad started a peach farm when he retired…never imagining how much it would thrive and grow each year and how very much work would be involved. My girls grew up picking peaches, eating them off the trees, and visiting Papa at the peach stand in the summer 🙂

  28. I so love books like this…my dad started a peach farm when he retired…never imagining how much it would thrive and grow each year and how very much work would be involved. My girls grew up picking peaches, eating them off the trees, and visiting Papa at the peach stand in the summer 🙂

  29. I have been wanting to read this book for a while. Thanks for reminding me 🙂

  30. I have been wanting to read this book for a while. Thanks for reminding me 🙂

  31. I very much enjoyed your review. I have sent the link along to two of my food producing friends.

  32. I very much enjoyed your review. I have sent the link along to two of my food producing friends.

  33. Sounds like this book would be a win for me as well. I live about 10 miles from a farm that grows blueberries and a few other crops such as apples, peaches and some seasonal vegetables. I have been going there with my family every July to pick blueberries to last us the whole year. This past summer was the first year in about a decade that I didn’t get there and I am already regretting it greatly. Maybe reading this memoir will satisfy my longing for local farm grown blueberries over the winter. 🙂

  34. Sounds like this book would be a win for me as well. I live about 10 miles from a farm that grows blueberries and a few other crops such as apples, peaches and some seasonal vegetables. I have been going there with my family every July to pick blueberries to last us the whole year. This past summer was the first year in about a decade that I didn’t get there and I am already regretting it greatly. Maybe reading this memoir will satisfy my longing for local farm grown blueberries over the winter. 🙂

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