HARD CIDER by Barbara Stark-Nemon
Review by Bernadette Quist
For those who have traveled the road from Ann Arbor north to brilliant Lake Michigan, it seems impossible to describe the feelings one gets when taking in the beauty and wonder of it all. Barbara Stark-Nemon does this elegantly throughout Hard Cider; yet for tactile, visual people (like me), pretty words alone aren’t enough. Add a story with plots and sub-plots woven into these places that I know so well, and you’ve got Hard Cider. This book pulled me in like a magnet and kept me in don’t-want-to-put-it-down mode until the last page.
Abbie Rose Stone is a woman pursuing a dream previously deferred by marriage, family, practical priorities, and assorted complications. Now, with the kids on their own, a passion for making things, and a gnawing desire to turn apples into hard cider, Abbie is determined. She moves through trial and error, family skepticism, and personal doubt to inch closer to personal and professional alchemy. It is not an easy path, however. With relationship struggles, new connections, and a life-changing bombshell hanging in the background, Stone “weaves a sensory net” around seemingly loose ends to graceful resolution and imagined new chapters that lay beyond the final sentence.
Narrated in the first person by 50-something Abbie Rose, the story opens in the past with her Ann Arbor home up in flames — as if enduring “six years of agonizing infertility treatments, in-vitro fertilization, and adoption proceedings” weren’t enough. Here she was finally holding her own nine-week-old after thirty-six hours of labor and a C-section, and the house was up in flames. All that, and it was only the prologue. Abbie Rose didn’t cry. She had work to do.
The book really begins twenty years later. Abbie is determined to finally do something she has always been drawn to. Women of all ages will relate, but those of us who have raised families while trying to contribute to the family financially will really be inspired to keep reaching for those longings that won’t let you go. If Abbie Rose can do it, even in the midst of life-changing family discoveries, then maybe you can, too.
There is only one unresolved thing in the book that I kept thinking would be uncovered in the final pages. Who set the fire in the beginning of the book? How did it start? That remains a mystery unsolved, but it is a small glitch in an otherwise compelling read.
Author Of Hard Cider
Barbara Stark-Nemon, author of the award-winning novel Even in Darkness, lives, writes, cycles, swims, and gardens in Ann Arbor and Northport, Michigan. Degrees in English Literature, Art History, and Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Michigan led to a career as a teacher and speech therapist working with deaf children. Barbara now writes novels, short stories, essays, and articles.
“…fabulous…. Not just a great story, it’s a beautiful example of how to live.”
—Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg, author of EDEN: A Novel
“I just flew through…Hard Cider. Well written and easy to read…A book that celebrates family.”
—Caitlin Hicks, author of Reader’s Favorite and i-book award winning A Theory of Expanded Love
“The novel soars with passages about upper Michigan’s unique beauty…Hard Cider is a story about following a dream…”