I wanted to love this book because it sounded magical and empowering of women.
The idea for this story was solid but not executed as well as it could have been. It’s implied to be about a magical vine that relies on women for it’s growth. We don’t understand early on what that means of the women tasked with the vine’s upkeep, and after finishing the book it’s still not very clear to me. After a young woman has her cycle, her responsibility to the vine changes with rituals. The ritual is not as detailed as I’d expected from this story. This story is not about the daughters of the family.
Ultimately, this story is about a dysfunctional family living like a cult on a rural farm. Children are placed on the farm by foster care and then grossly mistreated. The story focuses more on a boy named Cello than the daughter named Joanie. In less frequent moments spent in Joanie’s perspective she is intensely focused on using the vine to find her son, this at least was true to the synopsis. Despite all of her time on the vine and pushing her worship of it to her physical limits, I kept trying to understand the “why” of the vine.
More time should be spent in the high-stakes moments of the story.
There are quick and abrupt shifts in the story that needed more time. Cello has a big revelation about himself that occurs way too fast to feel true to the character. When an important character dies, a tense environment suddenly shifts to people just moving around, talking to each other, going inside the house. There’s a disconnect in several important transitions in the story.
It’s my honest opinion that there’s a lot of good ideas woven in this story, it just needed a little more work. I would have liked to see the story from Joanie and Marcela’s points of view. Marcela was a fiery spirit that didn’t enjoy her life on the farm at all. The connection of Cello and Joanie wasn’t relevant enough for me to warrant his point of view.