The Blackberry Bush by David Housholder is a novel about choices, identity, predestination, and fate. Kati and Josh are two people who live completely separate lives, unaware that their fates are inextricably linked. Both struggle with their identities. Josh feels smothered by the weight of the unrealistic expectations placed on him, and Kati feels disappointed and abandoned when she assumes that whatever she does is never good enough for anyone, especially her mother. As they live their lives as best as they can, their futures are on tracks that must eventually intersect.
The book is always in first person, but it switches perspectives and points of view among several different characters. It is set in a number of flashbacks and flash forwards with direct addresses to the reader by an omniscient character named Angelo. The people in the story struggle with everyday situations in their relationships, but the characters are not necessarily well-developed. However, the ultimate encounter between the two main characters (toward which the entire book has been building) is climactic and satisfying.
Josh is an all-American golden boy to whom everything comes easily. His life is balanced, and he cherishes that fact. Kati is an awkward girl who feels off kilter in every area of her life. Both feel suppressed by their parents, and both must eventually face the responsibilities tied to the choices they make. As Josh grows older, he loses the balance he once held dear, making poor life decisions and facing the repercussions. Kati continues to deal with her awkwardness and her feeling of never being able to measure up, but her link with the past keeps her moving forward even during the hard times in her life.
Although both main characters face situations that are relevant, the reader might find difficulty in becoming attached to these folks right away. The central characters are young when the book starts, and the story is written from their perspectives. However, that section of the book seems to be written in clichés, in the language of an older person trying to sound young. Although the characters do change throughout the novel, they both seem flat and at times predictable. Josh and Kati, though different in many aspects, appear to be fundamentally the same character and, therefore, it’s difficult for the reader to distinguish between their changing perspectives.
The book’s numerous shifting perspectives and sudden direct addresses to the reader make its structure somewhat awkward. It is a “busy” book that doesn’t quite achieve what it set out to do. I can give it only a lukewarm recommendation. – Alexis Warner, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
Who are You, and what are you doing here? Two babies—Kati and Josh—are born on opposite sides of the world at the very moment the Berlin Wall falls. You’d think such a potent freedom metaphor would become the soundtrack for their lives, but nothing could be further from the truth. Despite his flawless image, Josh, an artistic and gifted California skateboarder, struggles to find his true role in the world, and his growing aggression eventually breaks him.
Kati, a German with a penchant for classic Swiss watches and attic treasure-hunting, is crushed with disappointment for never being “enough” for anyone—most especially her mother. Craving liberation, Kati and Josh seem destined to claim their birthright of freedom together. After all, don’t the “chance” encounters transform your life…or are they really chance?